juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

INVASION

Worms invade my garden.Spoiled food invades my refrigerator. I am buried under piles of mail that invade my desk. Noise invades my peace and quiet. There is only one kind of invasion I welcome. That is the thoughts and ideas of others. How could I resent being presented with a comments like these? “The death of lying.” “Art as reflected in realism.”

I have been fortunate to have met a few people who act as thinking catalysts. We bounce challenging ideas off each other. One studied all of Shakespeare’sonnets with me. Two are writers with whom I exchange short stories and poetry we have written. One has adopted me as editor of an autobiography he is writing. A fourth shares his love of nature and his life experiences with me.

A fourth is a reporter who peppers my days with his wit. A fifth is a brilliant scholar who has taught me much about ancient Rome and introduced me to a wide variety of historical figures and their influence on history.

It would be wonderful to be able to meet these guys but that’s not part of the pen-pal game. I have learned to accept that and simply be grateful they are in my life.

Julie Rose
editit601@gmail.com

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WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

BLOG – WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

I sometimes dream of living in the country; far away from any neighbors, a pond in my backyard, maple trees outside my kitchen window and only the caw of a crow to break the silence. Most certainly a goodly number of people relish living away from a city, enjoying starlit nights, perhaps riding a horse,  fresh water from a well and fresh eggs every morning. Our produce departments would be bare and our freezers empty were it not for farmers and ranchers, not to mention vintners. A blessing on their heads.

Then I remember three things that make fighting the urban smog,  the traffic, the noise worthwhile. Without them we’d need no home larger than a village. Without a park a city ought naught call itself a city. They are living things, these parks – oases which begin to slumber in the fall, hibernate in the winter, come to life in spring awaiting gardeners to adorn their footstools; put halos on their heads and give them a rainbow each day. They wait for the children, anxious for their giggles; clap for joy at the daring kids who stand on the swings.

They wait for lovers, content to stroll, sit on a bench, holding hands, not concerned with their surroundings. Parks don’t mind being ignored. They’ve done their job providing an oasis for love. They wait for the grills to light up, watch families at rest and at play. They delight in the aroma of hamburgers grilling, pleased the ice cream is chilling

Some are small with only a bench and a swing, sparse of wildlife and flora. Others harbor hiking trails and small lakes, gardens, nesting birds, rabbits, perhaps deer and playgrounds with every jungle gym known to mankind.

I’d choose city life for their libraries, giving me free access to most anything I care to read or know. Hallowed sanctuaries these; a classroom and an oasis for the  brain. The inscription over the door of the library at Thebes reads: “Medicine for the Soul.” Those Greeks of long ago knew well of what they spoke

The cultural attractions of a city weigh heavily in my choice of where to live.  I wouldn’t be happy having to drive 100 miles to attend an opera, a symphony concert, a ballet or a play.  A local country fair might be an interesting outing but it doesn’t compare to hearing Bach or Beethoven played by a world class orchestra or spending a few hours at an Art Institute.

Parks, libraries and cultural attractions are a world away from the cares of at-home life, offering joy, variety and rest to the weary. So there you have it. A city offers you parks as medicine for the body, libraries as medicine for the brain and concerts as medicine for the soul. What more could you ask for?

 

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Julie Rose                     editit601@gmail.com

 

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CLUES

CLUES

I love to explore in general – byways, off-beat shops, antique malls – but I most enjoy exploring someone’s home. I’ve learned a sharp eye can tell me a great deal about someone; particularly someone I don’t know well. What’s on his refrigerator gives me a clue as to what he deems important. His bookshelves tell me whether he’s into history, philosophy, religion or fiction – and what kind.

 

Take a tour with me. The kitchen will tell us if he lives on TV dinners or cooks.  The pantry will tell us if he prefers chocolate to oatmeal. Is his spice rack adequate for Paella? Does he use paper or linen napkins? Are there flowers on the table? Is the sink clean or does it contain yesterday’s dirty dishes?

 

Enter the bedroom. Check the night stand next to his bed. Will we find a book or two, a flashlight, paper and pen or is it devoid of anything that might keep him awake? Open a few of his dresser drawers. Look here. A U of Iowa sweatshirt and a tee-shirt with an airplane on it. Does he fly? How well organized is his closet? Is he content with 3 suits or does he have 20? This sports jacket dates from the 16th century? Is he cheap or simply nostalgic.

 

Is the living room warm and inviting?  Are there comfy chairs, bright colored pillows, footstools? What magazines are on the coffee table?  Biblical Archaeology Review, National Geographic or People and Reader’s Digest? Are there drapes drawn or open to light? Oh my, look at that aquarium!

          There’s more. Are there plants scattered throughout the house; vines trailing around windows? He surely loves gardens. Does a cat come snaking around your feet; a puppy gleefully greet you? He hates cages he does. Is his garage a hodgepodge of unusable stuff, a shelter for nothing but cars and bikes, or a well-ordered workshop; everything labeled and shelved?

Here’s a bit more about this:

 

HOUSEBREAKER

Open the door, I’m coming in.

Step aside while I glance at your books.

Do you prefer mystery or romance?

Sci-Fi, history or bios?

 

First, the kitchen.

Are there herbs on the windowsill?

Does the pantry house chocolate or oatmeal?

Do you have spices for Zim Zim Chicken

Or nothing but salt and pepper?

Looks like you prefer wine to orange juice.

 

What’s this on the refrigerator door?

Three appointments with your dentist?

Are you having your teeth pulled?

Going to a symphony concert, huh?

Will you use this  pass to the Botanic Gardens;

Accept this invitation to a dinner party?

And who are these three adorable children?

 

Move – I’m into the bedroom.

Will I find candles, down pillows, incense;

Cologne or sleeping pills on the dresser?

One book, none, or many on your nightstand?

Do your drawers hold pajamas

Or do you sleep nude?

Is your closet well organized?

Three pair of shoes or thirty?

Gucci or WalMart?

 

What will I see on your desk?

Files alphabetized, pens red and yellow?

Unpaid bills, letters unanswered?

The beginning of a short story, a poem,

Your autobiography?

 

Down to the basement.

I’ll discover you’re a pack-rat or not.

Are your nails stored in little glass jars?

Will I find a pool table, skis,

A pin-ball machine?

A bike, weights, an exercise mat?

You’re an exercise freak or you’re not

.

I’m stepping outside.

Is there a single chair on your patio

Or a table for eight?

Hanging vines or no flora at all?

Is there a bird feeder in the yard?

Look at that – a tomato garden!

 

I’ve learned a bit about you

I want to know more.

Turn down the lights,

Light a fire. close the door,

Hold my hand, talk to me.

And may I please have one of those tomatoes?

I admit to being a snoop. If it wasn’t illegal I’d probably open his mail.

What’s on your refrigerator or do you neatly file such things so visitors are unable to pick up a single clue about you?

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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KISS

B

KISS

Anais Nin, the French born author, is my idea of a best friend. If she truly believes what she wrote, we are on the same wave length. “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”  What I admire about that statement is not only the truth of it but its brevity.

Too often, I think, we make things complicated when they are really simple. I know somebody who, if I ask him about the weather, will launch into a half hour lecture when he could have said “cold, rainy.” One friend spends an hour preparing to go to the grocery store when she could have jumped in her car and completed the errand in twenty minutes.  Another rearranges her kitchen cabinets at least once a week. Why?

That tendency to make things complicated, to elaborate, is also the nemesis of some writers: those who have never learned how to eliminate unnecessary adjectives and are not conscious of redundancy. These writers were not guilty of complicating things. They knew the value of conciseness.

          “Being undead isn’t being alive.”  (E. E. Cummings)

          “Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)

          “It’s not the length of life, but the depth.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

          “Live simply so others may simply live.”  (Mother Teresa)

          “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” (Kurt Cobain)

That tendency to unnecessarily elaborate could be called diarrhea of mouth or pen.  Whenever possible I avoid both.

I now have a problem.  The problem is my admiration for keeping things simple as opposed to my distaste for what goes on in our world today where “easy, simple and quick” are key words.  In the kitchen that equates to never sinking your finger into a bowl of freshly risen dough: to not bothering to cook anything that requires more than three ingredients or takes more than 15 minutes to prepare. When taking a trip by car it equates to never leaving the expressway and exploring a byway.

Yes, the world is complicated and we do not understand much of it.  But, for the most part, a star is a star that brightens the heavens; a smile or a frown are unmistakable messages; a computer opens the door to the world’s knowledge; and getting a haircut does not have to mean employing a stylist who will spend two hours trimming your hair and charge you $50 for what could have been done in ten minutes at a cost of $10.

It’s all seems so simple. It’s not so simple to go overboard and forsake what might have been pleasurable or interesting or a learning experience.

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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EARLY LEARNING

EARLY LEARNING

No, not reading and math and such: the things we learn in childhood and never forget.  No matter how old you are, I’ll bet you can still recite Jack and Jill.  I’ll bet you’ve never forgotten Jingle Bells or Over the River and Through the Woods.  I spent every summer of my youth with my grandparents at a cottage in Wisconsin.  Invariably, while driving there, my mother sang silly songs, all of which are etched on my brain.  I will never forget Will You Love Me When my Carburetor’s Busted or Playmate, Come Out and Play With Me

I’m reasonably certain that experience initiated my love of singing.  I probably know the lyrics to more than 500 songs.  I am tone deaf and sing off-key – alone – in the car, in the shower, taking a walk.  There are times, however, when someone says something that triggers a song and I cannot help but sing it aloud. This is problematic.  Mention you were in the Navy and you’ll hear Anchors Aweigh My Boys, Anchors Aweigh.  The problem is it doesn’t stop there. I’d feel unpatriotic if I didn’t go right on to  From The Halls of Montezuma To The Shores of Tripoli and Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder and Over Hill, Over Dale, As We Hit the Dusty Trail.

The same things happens if you mention a city. You’ll hear Chicago, Chicago, I Left My Heart In San Francisco, Meet Me In St. Louis and a host of others. Likewise with musicals.  Mention Fiddler On The Roof or The Sound Of Music and I become Tevye or Julie Andrews and, like it or not, serenade you with the entire score.

I’m certainly not Julie Andrews or Maria Tallchief or Ella Fitzgerald.  The whole thing bewilders me. I have a lousy memory. One of my sons remembers EVERYTHNG since he was two years old. I can’t remember the name of the last book I read. I don’t recall anything I learned in college, the names of neighbors in half a dozen places I’ve lived, but I remember the words to Blue Moon, When the Saints Go Marching In and a repertoire of patriotic, romantic, campfire and ‘golden oldie’ songs.

How did that happen? Either I have a gene that’s been programmed to be musically receptive or what did the trick was being weaned on Down In he Middle Of a Little Bitty  Pool, Swam Three Little Fishies and a Mama Fishie Too.

Adieu, adieu, my  friends adieu. I can no longer stay with you. So I’ll hang my hat on a weeping willow tree and may the world go well with thee.   Early learning can’t be beat!

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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WRINKLES

WRINKLES

Gone is youth

Bearing confusion, illusion, indecision.

Doors open.

Fate whispers grab the moment.

No longer must I seek to find

The who, the why, the what of me.

I need not behave as others expect.

Freedom is mine.

 

Aging has me firmly in hand

When I no longer want to throw a snowball.

I’ve learned a mind lift beats a face lift,

It’s okay to shuffle slower if still have a full deck,

And the gray of my hair is no indication

Of  the age of my heart or my mind.

 

Wrinkles don’t hurt.

Whatever advice I offer is more thoughtful

Than what I might have said at 20 or 40

The first 40 years gave me the text:

The next 30 furnished the commentary.

 

I  still want to throw snowballs;

Catch fireflies;

Kick piles of autumn leaves;

Build sand castles.

I’ve given up climbing a tree.

 

How about you? Post a comment.

Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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HE SAID, SHE SAID

HE SAID, SHE SAID

I recently moved and in the process came across a folder of things I’d written some years ago for a class in Creative Writing I took at the U of Chicago. Some of the pieces had favorable comments written on them by the professor and I decided to rework a few.  Most were of  personal reflection nature: some wee fiction.  One was an exercise in dialogue. I laughed when I read it. Perhaps it will bring a smile to your face too.

HE SAID – SHE SAID -1 

  “The back yard looks like shit,” he said.

“I was beginning to think the same thing. But this afternoon I was sitting on the patio and  I rather enjoyed the privacy of the forest that’s growing out there.”

“The weeds are going to kill the bushes.”

“So, pull the weeds.”

“The dead branches of the lilac tree need to be cut out.”

“So do it. Don’t do it. I don’t care. There’s a nice natural earthy feel about it now. I can’t even see the neighbor’s house anymore. I like it.”

“Maybe we should call a landscaper out for a day.”

“You won the lottery and didn’t tell me?”

No silly. But we can’t just let it got to hell.”

“We can as far as I’m concerned. I’ve better things to do than pull weeds.”

“I didn’t ask you to pull weeds.”

“I know  you didn’t. But if you’re going to pay someone to do it, you might as well pay me and then I can pay the butcher and we can have steak one day next week – right on the patio in the middle of the weeds.”

“You’re eight months pregnant. You’re not going out there to pull weeds!”

“I need the exercise and the butcher needs to be paid.”

“Screw the butcher. As for the exercise, let’s take a walk.”

“I did that this morning. Ellen and I walked four miles”

“Good for you. Tired?”

“Not particularly. And speaking of exercise, my dear. You could use a little of that yourself. You really need to do something about those extra pounds accumulating around what was your waist.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ll go on a diet tomorrow. I only need to drop about ten pounds. I’ll start swimming again. Shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Good. And when you come home from the pool, you can get a little more exercise if you pull the weeds, cut the grass and trim the bushes,” she said.

HE SAID, SHE SAID – 2

  “The kids are both going to be gone this weekend and it’s going to be nice out. Let’s do something special.”

“It’s supposed to storm tonight and half the day tomorrow.”

“You’re listening to the wrong weatherman.”

“What do you have in mid?”

“I don’t know. You come up with an idea.”

“We sit on the patio, split a bottle of wine and go to bed early.”

“Oh, how exciting. I can hardly wait.”

“Don’t be snide.”

You’re imagination leaves a lot to be desired dear.”

“I never claimed to have an imagination.”

“Good thing you didn’t ‘cause you don’t.”

“Now you’re getting nasty.”

“I’m not nasty.”

“Critical then.”

“Come on, Archie. Surely you can do better than that.”

“I made my suggestion. What’s yours?

“Book a room in a hotel downtown – go to some fancy restaurant for dinner – take a tour of the Art Institute.”

“I don’t like art.”

“No taste, either.”

“What did you say?”

“Your cultural tastes are on a par with your imagination.”

“So go find yourself some English gentleman who rides to the hounds. carries a walking stick, wears suede jackets and tams, and plays polo.”

“Horses scare the shit out of me.”

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course . . . “

“Highly unlikely but that’s an interesting idea and you can’t sing either – you’re off  key. Okay, how about an overnight trip on a riverboat?”

“Does it have a casino?

“Maybe.”

“I’d do that if you can find one.”

“I don’t gamble. I don’t know how.”

“I’ll teach you.”

“I don’t want to learn.”

“Any idiot can pull the handle of a slot machine.”

“I’m not an idiot. Okay. I’ll take my quarter jar. When it’s half empty I’ll quit. What will you do?”

“Me?  I’ll trip the hostess, order a drink, and play some Blackjack.”

“You get $100 bucks. That’s all. Promise me you’ll quit when it’s gone.”

“You’re cheap but I promise.”

“I’m not cheap. I’m frugal.”

Later:

“Well, dinner was decent and I liked the rag-time band. How’d you do at the Blackjack table?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Did you keep your promise?”

“I couldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Had three aces and was sure the pot was mine so I raised. Some bastard had a full house.”

“How much?”

“Shut up. How about you? Bet you lost all your quarters.”

“Nope. Sit down.”

“Why?”

“I said sit.” (he sat) I got down to about ½ my quarters and then . .. “

“Then what?”

“Then I hit the jackpot.”

“How much?”

“Sure you want to hear this?”

“I’m about to smack you.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“How much?”

“Jackpot paid   eight thousand, eight hundred and twenty five dollars.”

“Holy shit. Gonna teach you to play Blackjack.”

 

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SOMEDAY

SOMEDAY

 

I have a sister who lives by the maxim “JUST DO IT.”  In that respect she is far wiser than I.  I belong to the majority who play the someday game.  More than 50 years ago I began to read Anna Karenina.  Have I finished it?  I have not. Someday I will. Baloney: More likely I’ll never finish it so why do I keep telling myself someday  I’ll finish it? There are only losers in the someday game so why  would anyone want to play it? I think the next time I’m introduced to someone I’ll ask him if he plays the someday game. If he admits to doing so, Farewell Charlie.

 

THE SOMEDAY GAME

We all play it; no rules necessary.

Someday I’ll go on a cruise,

Someday I’ll lose ten pounds,

Someday I’ll learn to golf,

Someday I’ll read War and Peace.

 

There may never be funds for that cruise

But dropping a few pounds,

Learning anything new,

Reading a book costs not a cent.

Why someday?

 

I have a busy as a bee friend

She flits hither and yon,

Travels a road that leads no where.

Keeps telling me she’ll meet me for lunch,

Waits for the day to come,

When she’s not so busy doing nothing.

 

Some people live by the someday theory

Never accomplish a thing.

Others, wiser than they,

Prefer the do it now approach

Knowing someday may never come.

 

Tomorrow I’ll bake some bread;

Tomorrow I’ll call Barbara or Susan or Kate;

Tomorrow I’ll go to that tai chi class;

Tomorrow I’ll go to the library;

Tomorrow I’ll tell my kids I love them.

 

Whoops – there I go again

Forgetting there may not be

A tomorrow or a someday.

 

Sad, tragic,

Pathetic,

Ridiculous.,

Unforgivable.

 

Do you play the Someday Game?

Julie Rose

writerjr@aol.com

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AT THE CLEARING

 

AT THE CLEARING                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

            In the process of packing to move I discovered a folder containing about twenty short pieces I wrote several years ago for a creative writing class I took at the U. of Chicago.  Among them was a description of The Clearing, an adult retreat center for those who want to spend some time working in a creative area be it writing, woodworking or spinning yarn.  Driving home from a week I spent there, I had written something about that idyllic place and there it was, in the forgotten folder. See my post, “A Memorable Time.”  Here it is.  I wish you such an experience.

AT THE CLEARING

It was a week of t-shirt days and sweat suit nights

Watching the Artist scarlet the maples.

It was logs and stone and pine needles and glistening red berries;

Morning sunshine filtered through pine trees

And white birch trees that marched forth

From a black forest ‘neath the moon’s spotlight.

 

The bay, a smooth blanket of sapphire,

A lone sailboat drifted by.

Rolling green hills, blackberry bushes,

White clouds webbing the sky;

Bright new condos along the shore

Like sea gulls facing the wind;

Weathered log cabins hiding deep in the woods.

 

Red barns, blue silos, white lighthouses,

purple asters, pink mums, goldenrod,

Hummingbirds and screeching crows;

A rocky cliff, a sawdust path, a white-tailed doe.

 

A time to share the joy of a woodcarver

Caressing his first sandpiper into being;

To hear a poet bring her soul to light.

A time for such stillness only birds bickered in the trees

And the sea lapped gently at the shore.

It was new faces, new voices and oatmeal with raisins;

A small room and thick wooly blankets and loons on the water.

 

It was mood-setting Chopin on the way,

And Charlie Parker on the way home,

And me in the middle

Stretching, sinking, swallowing.

It was all of that and more.

Don’t ask me what I did there.

I was.

 

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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GRATEFUL

GRATEFUL

My thoughts began to drift as I was driving home today and a question popped up. Aside from some family members, to whom, and for what, am I grateful?  Only a few came to mind and I started to feel – I don’t know- cheated, I guess. I trembled to think that at my age there should have been far more   Nonetheless, I’m grateful to these few.

I am grateful for having had the experience of interacting with two learned professors. One had the patience to plough through all of Shakespeare’s sonnets with me and introduced me to Plato, Socrates and a chunk of ancient Greek history. The second, a professor of linguistics as well as an artist, daily provides my brain with the manna it craves and challenges me.

I’m grateful for one friend who, in ten words, once said something to me that resulted in sending my children to an excellent Jewish Day School from which they graduated as knowledgeable, committed Jews.

I’m grateful to Helene Hanff, author of 84 Charing Cross Road, who not only amused me but introduced me to Quiller whose lectures on the Art of Reading and The Art of Writing taught me much.

I’m grateful for people like Mother Teresa who remind me how good man can be and for those like Elie Wiesel who don’t let me forget how evil man can be.

I’m grateful for having had a seventh grade English teacher who provided me with a thorough grounding in the art of writing and instilled in me a love of   books, as well as a teacher who gave me an appreciation for the beauty of the Hebrew language.

I’m grateful to two people who consistently tolerate me at the Bridge table and continually teach me more about the game.

I’m grateful to one man who taught me how to laugh again, gave me a love of gardening, and opened my eyes to the extraordinary ability of very young children to learn.

I’m grateful for having grown up at a time when Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole and ‘Ole Blue Eyes filled my head with lyrics I’ll never forget.

And I’m grateful to all libraries which give me access to the world’s knowledge: books to entertain, teach, challenge me.

This seems a paltry list. Certainly I could mention Martin Luther King and others who stood for equality and human rights; Jonas Salk and his ilk who gave us solutions to medical problems; those who invented a myriad of things that enhance our lives, but I am not here speaking of humanity at large – only of those who  touched me personally.

For whom, for what, are you grateful?

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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