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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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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COLORFUL LANGUAGE

COLORFUL LANGUAGE

 

My mother once painted a breakfast nook orange.  It became a boxing ring for her and my dad. The kitchen wallpaper of a new home was Halloween orange and black.

I tore it off the day I moved in. My daughter wanted her room to be green which reminds me of all things reptilian. I avoided it whenever I could. If you’re the neutral sort browns and grays will suit you. They make me think of  burned out campfires.

It’s blue that charms me, sets my eyes to rest, puts my mind at ease. Blue is a dreamer’s color. Gazing at an azure sky quiets me on a summer day. It’s the color of cornflowers, forget-me-nots and blueberries. The sea, where I long to be, is blue. Blue’s buddy, his favorite fellow, is that happy color we call yellow – sunflowers and roses and chickadees.

Colors speak. Yellow is playful. It tickles like softly falling rain; teases a smile to your face.  Red is a flamingo dancer. She looks at you, points her finger and says  “Come dance with me.” Green is a leprechaun poking an elbow in your back, urging you to keep moving. Blue is the trustworthy sailor who whispers softly and calms, offers peace and serenity.

Red demands company and conflict. Green wants pine trees and breezes – he’s the naturalist. Purple says bow down and lilac asks to be sniffed. Orange tempts, challenges. Silver mounts the podium and sparkles. Blue is happy with gently rolling seas – demands nothing. Black belongs to the chimney sweep and white, which is no color at all, exists only as a palate on which all other colors can shine

Give the ruby to a fighter,

the emerald to the cyclist,

 the diamond to the socialite.

I’ll take the sapphire.

 

What color are you?

Julie Rose

editit601 @gmail.com

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WHISPERING

WHISPERING

In my blog, ‘Writing Is . . .’ I quoted Emile Zola:  “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you, I am here to live out loud.”  I received some interesting responses to that piece but the best of the lot came from my sister who said, “Don’t let your life be a whisper.”  What an intriguing thought!

Is there any difference between living out loud and not letting your life be a whisper?  I think so.  To me, living out loud has a flamboyant tone to it. It suggests flashing lights, popping balloons, driving 120 m.p.h. It calls to my mind a very large bright, multi-colored painting of nothing but geometric shapes. There’s also something egotistical about it.  It screams, “Listen to me,” “Applaud me.”

That is far different from not whispering. One who doesn’t whisper is self-assured but not egotistical. He is one who lives his life in such a way that he positively influences others and cares not whether he receives a pat on the back.  He takes advantage of every opportunity to enjoy his life. Cloudy days don’t bother him.. He walks with back straight and head high and doesn’t tiptoe, either around people or issues.  He knows who he is, likes who he is, and enjoys coloring outside the lines.

The guy whose modus operandi is to live out loud does not care about writing backwards, losing weight or reading bedtime stories to a child. His only concern is to splash more paint on his picture, dance until three in the morning, ride a roller coaster.

Those two guys are not good friends.

Do you live out loud or do you whisper?

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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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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WOMAN OF VALOR

 

WOMAN OF VALOR

One of the rituals of the Jewish Sabbath dinner meal is the recitation by a husband to his wife of Woman of Valor (Eshat Chayil), a 22 verse poem that concludes the Book of Proverbs, wherein such a woman is described as energetic, righteous and capable. It begins, “A woman of valor who can find. Her worth is far above rubies.”  When I hear it I want to respond by saying, “Stop right there.  I can find plenty of women of valor.” To mention only a few, there was:  

Brave Rachel who stole her father’s idols and never begrudged her sister – winner of the wedding wars. Sneaky Rebecca who ensured first born privileges be given to the second: an act that saved the Jewish people. Courageous Miriam, though still a child, saved one who led his people forth from slavery. Deborah, the judge, sent forth words of wisdom from under a palm tree and bravely entered a war of freedom. Esther – a woman of faith, devotion and courage, kept her identity a secret, defied the rules, appeared before her king to beg for the lives of her people – and won.

Emma Lazarus welcomed the oppressed to a land of freedom, argued for a Jewish homeland long before Herzl called it Zionism. Golda, rose through the ranks to become Premier of Israel, secretly crept across borders to make peace with an enemy

Anne Frank, a young girl never to become a woman, courageously exposed the evils of Nazism: one voice who spoke for six million, embodied the triumph of the human spirit in a dehumanizing system. Henrietta Szold – Founder of Hadassah, leader of Youth Aliyah, rehabilitated thousands of children, established a nursing school, opened health care clinics throughout Israel.

Jewish women of valor can be found in medicine, literature, music, science, education and athletics, politics and the entertainment world: women who fight for right, loudly espouse equality and expose the evils that befall humanity. They score their triumphs alone, unaided they venture forth, no crutches or jumper cables for them

Many others of note swept aside, buried in time. What would the world be like absent the paths they walked? Others will come who measure up to these women of guts and glory and talent. Let us remember and continue to tread the roads they traveled for all mankind

See also Two Toasts To the Sabbath

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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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