juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

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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FREEDOM

FREEDOM

I have a lousy memory.  The book I’m now reading is likely to be forgotten next week. I don’t  remember the addresses of all the places I’ve lived nor the names of childhood classmates.  I am attentive and take copious notes when attending a lecture but the words float through my mind like wisps of smoke. It embarrasses me to ask my son – who remembers EVERYTHING – when specific events occurred in our family.

There are however a few things I remember quite well. In this poem  it seems I’ve been bitten by a nostalgia bug and remembering those days reminds me of this song as well. Sing along with me.

Those were the days my friend,

We thought they’d never end,

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

We’d live the life we choose,

We’d fight and never lose,

For we were young and sure to have our way.”

                                    (Artist: Mary Hopkins)

FREEDOM

My sister and I spent our first sixteen years

At a small cottage near aWisconsinlake.

What looms large in my memory

Is the freedom we had

Freedom to come and go, from dawn ‘til dusk

With no fear of danger by day or by night.

 

We ate warm tomatoes from the garden for breakfast.

Stole apples and blueberries from neighbors.

Hung clothes to dry in the sun.

Dug fat night crawlers out of the mud.

Climbed into a sacrosanct rowboat

Where no noise was permitted,

Bamboo fishing poles in hand.

 

Early each day we left for the beach.

Spent days with minnows swirling round our feet,

Ducklings trailed us as we swam out to a raft,

Turtles sunned on the banks of the lake,

Profuse with sweet-smelling water lilies.

 

We used baby oil mixed with iodine for tans.

Shared one apple among three and nobody died.

Taught swimming to toddlers,

Built thousands of sand castles,

Carved our initials into picnic tables.

 

A weeping willow tree hung over the water.

We swung from its branches like monkeys.

Dove from a bridge over a channel

Higher than an eight year old should attempt.

 

We rode rusty Schwinns through the woods

Caught butterflies and fireflies.

Plucked handfuls of wild flowers,

Sought out wild blackberry bushes,

Tracked down rabbit holes,

Learned where the owls hung out.

 

No computers or cell phones for us.

Our evening entertainment was each other.

Kids gathered and played Red Rover,

Kick-The-Can, Marbles and Pick-Up-Sticks.

Some nights we hiked up a cobbled road

Shared Black Cows at the Dairy Queen.

 

To escape hordes of  hungry mosquitoes

We gathered on someone’s porch,

Played Monopoly ‘til the banker went broke.

Listened for the tinkling bells

That announced the Good Humor truck.

 

The loft of a barn  was our sleep-over bedroom

Bales of freshly cut hay our pillows.

There we prayed to be witness to a bull

Breaking loose and mounting a cow.

 

No one questioned our whereabouts, our activities.

Yet neither of us ever got hurt or got lost.

Found our way home for dinner,

Corn on the cob dripping in butter,

Gabriel Heater and the News in the background.

 

When the stars appeared

A warm summer’s night sleep beckoned

On a screened porch in a swing

Rocked gently by evening breezes,

The aroma of peonies in the air.

 

I pined for the last day of school

To again spend three months

With nobody asking:

Where were you?  What did you do?

Where did you go?  Who were you with?

I leave you to draw your own conclusions about what that kind of freedom meant to two little girls from the city and how it affected the women they became.

Post a comment.

Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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AVERAGE

AVERAGE

I’m no different than most parents who want their children to excel, to be the best, to rise to the top of the ladder. Some, in seeking to achieve that end, enroll their kids in prestigious private schools the day the child is born.  Others encourage their children to participate in so many activities the poor kid can’t decide what he enjoys the most or wants to pursue.  Our public schools, with their emphasis on performance, are complicit in this endeavor.  There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a child to do well academically but a “C” student ought not be made to feel like a failure if “C” is the best he can do.

 

I know a father who dragged his kid into the shower with him every morning and forced the child to recite the multiplication tables. Not exactly a father-son bonding experience is it?  Guess what kind of a relationship that child has with his father today. The closest my father – an average guy – ever came to doing such a thing was to occasionally rap me on the head and say, “You’ve got a brain. Use it.”

 

Perhaps one of the components of a parenting class ought to be “We’re Not All Geniuses.”

 

JUST AVERAGE

Wasn’t valedictorian of my class

No blue ribbons for me

Once won a Betty Crocker Award

Deserve a few points in a mommy contest

 

Won’t score 150 on an I.Q. test

Will never own a patent

I play a decent game of Bridge

Scrabble is my forte

 

Didn’t write a best seller

Didn’t rise to fame

Can edit poor prose

Turn it into a winner

 

Can’t play like Mozart

Sing like a lark

Paint portraits or sunflowers

Can put you to shame in the kitchen

 

Not going to have a fortune

Live in a penthouse

Buy a Ferrari

But not yet quite broke

 

Missed having a heart stopping romance

Don’t have hordes of friends

My family’s enough for me

 

Got short changed in the beauty department

No long curly hair, no sexy legs

No dimples, a Barbie-doll figure

Cute’s not so bad

 

Was dealt average cards

Not a royal flush

Never hit the jackpot

On a one-armed bandit

But I win at gin rummy.

 

Was minimally programmed

Missing a few genes in the brain department

Have come to appreciate

And accept who I am.

Just average is okay.

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

 

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FREEDOM

FREEDOM

 

I have a lousy memory.  The book I’m now reading is likely to be forgotten next week. I don’t  remember the addresses of all the places I’ve lived nor the names of childhood classmates.  I am attentive and take copious notes when attending a lecture but the words float through my mind like wisps of smoke. It embarrasses me to ask my son – who remembers EVERYTHING – when specific events occurred in our family.

 

There are however a few things I remember quite well. In this poem  it seems I’ve been bitten by a nostalgia bug and remembering those days reminds me of this as well Sing along with me.

 

Those were the days my friend,

We thought they’d never end,

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

We’d live the life we choose,

We’d fight and never lose,

For we were young and sure to have our way.”

                                    (Artist: Mary Hopkins)

 

FREEDOM

 

My sister and I spent our first sixteen years

At a small cottage near aWisconsinlake.

What looms large in my memory

Is the freedom we had had then

Freedom no responsible parent today would accord a child

Freedom to come and go, from dawn ‘til dusk

With no fear of danger by day or by night.

 

We ate warm tomatoes from the garden for breakfast.

Stole apples and blueberries from neighbors.

Hung clothes to dry in the sun.

Dug fat night crawlers out of the mud.

Climbed into a sacrosanct rowboat

Where no noise was permitted,

Bamboo fishing poles in hand.

 

We left early each day for the beach.

Spent days with minnows swirling round our feet,

Ducklings trailed us as we swam out to a raft,

Turtles sunned on the banks of the lake

Profuse with sweet-smelling water lilies.

 

We applied baby oil mixed with iodine for tans.

Shared one apple among three and nobody died.

Taught swimming to toddlers,

Built thousands of sand castles,

Carved our initials into picnic tables.

 

A weeping willow tree hung over the water.

We swung from its branches like monkeys.

Dove from a bridge over a channel

Higher than an eight year old should attempt.

A young friend drove his own speedboat.

Dragged us behind him on water skis.

Did that on one ski by the time I was nine.

 

We rode rusty Schwinns through the woods

Caught butterflies and fireflies.

Plucked handfuls of wild flowers,

Sought out wild blackberry bushes,

Tracked down rabbit holes,

Learned where the owls hung out.

 

No computers or cell phones for us.

Our evening entertainment was each other.

Kids gathered and played Red Rover,

Kick-The-Can, Marbles and Pick-Up-Sticks.

Some nights we hiked up a cobbled road

Shared Black Cows at the Dairy Queen.

 

To escape hordes of  hungry mosquitoes

We gathered on someone’s porch,

Played Monopoly ‘til the banker went broke.

Listened for the tinkling bell

That announced the Good Humor man.

 

One friend lived on a nearby farm

The barn’s loft was our sleep-over party bedroom

Bales of freshly cut hay our pillows.

There we prayed to be witness to a bull

Breaking loose and mounting a cow.

 

No one questioned our whereabouts, our activities.

Yet neither of us ever got hurt or get lost.

Found our way home for dinner,

Corn on the cob dripping in butter,

Gabriel Heater and the News in the background.

 

When the stars appeared

A warm summer’s night sleep beckoned

On a screened porch in a swing

Rocked gently by evening breezes,

The aroma of peonies in the air.

 

I pined for the last day of school

For I knew that on the morrow

I’d be taken to the cottage

To again spend three months

With nobody asking:

 

Where were you?  What did you do?

Where did you go?  Who were you with?

Why are you late for dinner?

What are you doing tomorrow?

 

I leave you to draw your own conclusions

About what that kind of freedom meant

To two little girls from the city

And how it affected the women they became.

 

Simcha

 

(Simcha is the Hebrew word for Joy – my middle name is Joy – Not Julie Joy which sounds like a Hooker – Juleanne Joy, named, I was told, for a Queen of Sweden. Why anyone would name a child of Norwegian ancestry after a Swede escapes me.)

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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PLACES

PLACES

 

There are probably dozens of reasons why we become attached to a place – a locale – a particular niche in the landscape of our lives.  While I do remember all the places where I’ve lived none of them are memorable to the extent of touching my heart.

 

It is now some 50 years since I was there but I still have a warm spot in my heart for New Orleans. On the shores of LakePonchetrainI danced to music coming over the car radio from The Blue Room and he put a magnolia in my hair. I can hear soft jazz enveloping the air in the French Quarter – taste beignets and chicory flavored coffee – and recall marching behind a funeral cortege to the tune of When The Saints Go Marching In.

 

There is a small lake in southern Wisconsin where a piece of my heart still floats on its ripples.  It was there I learned to swim –  there, I fell off the running board of a Good Humor truck and contacted blood poisoning from landing on a gravel road – there, where I pigged out on black-cows. There, where I was given the freedom to come and go as I liked  – no questions asked – no cell phone to report in. There, where I picked fresh tomatoes from Grandma’s garden, doused them with salt and ate them for breakfast. There, where the smell of goat cheese coming from the icebox – yes, ice box – made me head for the back door.

 

I fondly recall an elegant restaurant at the top of a hotel in Lake Tahoe at close to midnight one evening when it was closed for dinner but accepted a plea for dessert. The ski slopes had shut down and we gazed out the window at snow covered mountains under a starry sky. I was feeling celebratory as I had just won $100 in the casino. Our waiter insisted he be allowed to choose our dessert.  He brought us bowls of fresh strawberries smothered in Kalua flavored crème frache, topped with chocolate shavings, profiteroles and,  with a goodly amount of flair, opened a bottle of very old, very fine, port.  No dessert I’ve ever had since has matched that.

 

Ellison Bay,Wisconsin– home of The Clearing – a retreat for writers and other artists, housed on a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. Several log cabins, connected by sawdust paths, are laid out beneath a thicket of pine trees. Here I was Thoreau in the wild! Here, I got good critical feedback from a creative writing instructor. Here, I was, for six lovely days, in the company of creative people. I will never forget the joy on the faces of an older couple as they left a woodcarving workshop, carrying a woodpecker and a thrush. I imagined them mounting their handiwork on the front lawn of a curlicued cottage complete with white picket fence, window boxes of pink petunias, and a hammock under a weeping willow tree. Surely the Garden of Eden looked like this place.

 

There are some cities that hold parking spaces in my memory. San Francisco for its vibrant cultural diversity, Golden Gate Park  and Fisherman’s Wharf. Toronto for its annual Canadian National Exposition – the best entertainment bargain I can imagine – and its efficient public transportation system.  Madison, Wisconsin for its academic atmosphere and a fine restaurant in the basement of an old winery that featured strolling violinists. Oshkosh,Wisconsin for the camaraderie of the sailors at the marina on Lake Winnebago and free access to a pool and tennis courts at the adjoining hotel.

Best of all is the unforgettable city of Jerusalem. There are many reasons why Jerusalem stands out – too many to mention here.  Let this one suffice. I love its stones – rosy pink in the morning and shimmering gold at sunset. They are like a woman who changes from shorts and tee-shirt to a cocktail dress at night. For me, the stones of Jerusalem are not inanimate objects at all. They speak of four thousand years of history. They have heard the pleadings of Isaiah and Job’s cries of anguish. They bear the scars of Roman war machines and Crusader swords. They stand tall and proud and boldly announce there is, in fact, some measure of hope in the world.

 

What is your ‘I’ll never forget’ place?

 

Julie Rose

Julieroe601@gmail.com

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