Friday, May 27, 2011

Decoration Day

Britts Women in Clinton, Mo.
One of my early memories surrounds traveling with Miss Dolly (my grandmother) to her hometown of Clinton, Mo., for Decoration Day. The work started at Miss Dolly’s the day before, filling buckets and buckets with long stem cut flowers such as Irises and Peonies from her yard. Then, we would load her station wagon with the flowers to head to Clinton with my sister or cousins.
Englewood Cemetery in Clinton is an old cemetery: family plots with short stone walls; granite angels for children; tombstones reading “Mother” or “Father” in large letters, their proper name in smaller carving. My great-great aunt (right in picture to left) whom I was named for stone simply reads ANNIE in large letters, bearing no birth or death date. I guess that is how she wanted it.
At the cemetery, the kids filled the vases with the cut flowers to be distributed by my grandmother to the many graves. Miss Dolly’s sister--Aunt Lorna to me--would join us. I can see her today: always in a wide-brimmed summer hat, she would walk by Miss Dolly, freely tossing flowers here and there, saying “Mother Dear,” “Father Dear,” and on.
Yesterday, I had the honor of decorating the graves of my family in Columbia. Mom wanted to know all the details and I told her how much fun I had doing it. She replied, “that is because you remember going to Clinton for Decoration Day.” I know the holiday is called Memorial Day even if I didn’t growing up. Assuming the name changed sometime in the 1960s or 70s, I found it appropriate in “a my-family-sort-of-way” to learn today that it officially became known as Memorial Day in 1882. Regardless, it is still Decoration Day to me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Cigarette

Hey smokers, listen up. 
You likely think you “just like to smoke.” I know well the perception: sit back, relax, and indulge in a guilty pleasure. Fact is, without nicotine in a cigarette you cough like those first, innocent puffs of cigarettes. They taste just awful and the ahhhh feeling of the nicotine blast isn't there. The urge to “relax” with a cigarette is simply the need for a nicotine fix; seductive little bastards those cigarettes. Smoking provides an easy route to inhale all of the following chemicals:  
  • Amyl Octanoate
  • alpha-Amylcinnamaldehyde
  • Amyris Oil
  • trans-Anethole
  • Angelica Root Extract, Oil and Seed Oil
  • Anise
  • Anise Star, Extract and Oils
  • Anisyl Acetate
  • Anisyl Alcohol
  • Anisyl Formate
  • Anisyl Phenylacetate
  • Apple Juice Concentrate, Extract, and Skins
  • Apricot Extract and Juice Concentrate
  • 1-Arginine
  • Asafetida Fluid Extract And Oil
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • 1-Asparagine Monohydrate
  • 1-Aspartic Acid
  • Balsam Peru and Oil
  • Basil Oil
  • Bay Leaf, Oil and Sweet Oil
  • Beeswax White
  • Beet Juice Concentrate
  • Benzaldehyde
  • Benzaldehyde Glyceryl Acetal
  • Benzoic Acid, Benzoin
  • Benzoin Resin
  • Benzophenone
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Benzyl Benzoate
  • Benzyl Butyrate
  • Benzyl Cinnamate
  • Benzyl Propionate
  • Benzyl Salicylate
  • Bergamot Oil
  • Bisabolene
  • Black Currant Buds Absolute
  • Borneol
  • Bornyl Acetate
  • Buchu Leaf Oil
  • 1,3-Butanediol
  • 2,3-Butanedione
  • 1-Butanol
  • 2-Butanone
  • 4(2-Butenylidene)-3,5,5-Trimethyl-2-Cyclohexen-1-One
  • Butter, Butter Esters, and Butter Oil
  • Butyl Acetate
  • Butyl Butyrate
  • Butyl Butyryl Lactate
  • Butyl Isovalerate
  • Butyl Phenylacetate
  • Butyl Undecylenate
  • 3-Butylidenephthalide
  • Butyric Acid]
  • Cadinene
  • Caffeine
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Camphene
  • Cananga Oil
  • Capsicum Oleoresin
  • Caramel Color
  • Caraway Oil
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cardamom Oleoresin, Extract, Seed Oil, and Powder
  • Carob Bean and Extract
  • beta-Carotene
  • Carrot Oil
  • Carvacrol
  • 4-Carvomenthenol
  • 1-Carvone
  • beta-Caryophyllene
  • beta-Caryophyllene Oxide
  • Cascarilla Oil and Bark Extract
  • Cassia Bark Oil
  • Cassie Absolute and Oil
  • Castoreum Extract, Tincture and Absolute
  • Cedar Leaf Oil
  • Cedarwood Oil Terpenes and Virginiana
  • Cedrol
  • Celery Seed Extract, Solid, Oil, And Oleoresin
  • Cellulose Fiber
  • Chamomile Flower Oil And Extract
  • Chicory Extract
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamaldehyde
  • Cinnamic Acid
  • Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Bark Oil, and Extract
  • Cinnamyl Acetate
  • Cinnamyl Alcohol
  • Cinnamyl Cinnamate
  • Cinnamyl Isovalerate
  • Cinnamyl Propionate
  • Citral
  • Citric Acid
  • Citronella Oil
  • dl-Citronellol
  • Citronellyl Butyrate
  • itronellyl Isobutyrate
  • Civet Absolute
  • Clary Oil
  • Clover Tops, Red Solid Extract
  • Cocoa
  • Cocoa Shells, Extract, Distillate And Powder
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coffee
  • Cognac White and Green Oil
  • Copaiba Oil
  • Coriander Extract and Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Corn Silk
  • Costus Root Oil
  • Cubeb Oil
  • Cuminaldehyde
  • para-Cymene
  • 1-Cysteine
This is just the ABCs of it all. See for a complete list.

Today marks four years since I kicked the cigarettes to the curb. Freedom! Two things helped me quit: Chantix, the controversial but highly effective quit smoking drug, and Quitnet, a thriving online community of folks committed to helping each other quit. Heck. If I would ever take up nicotine again, I’m opting for Nicorette gum.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me About Crying in the Shower?

Waterfall and Rainbow at Yosemite National Park

Not being able to find a poem that I need is like misplacing my aspirin or car keys--I get stuck. I expected to find the text on the Internet; after all everything is on the Internet. With a wee bit of glee, I discovered that an old friend of mine, "Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me About Crying in the Shower?" had escaped the world wide web. Two copies of this poem should be in my house, one in a trade paperback and the other in a poetry folder from college. When I finally found it, bound in a clear-covered folder, handwritten, with doodles to decorate, I felt much relief. That yellow folder houses a lot of memories, and more than a few poems that helped me through my late teenage years, this being one of them.

Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me About Crying in the Shower?
By Ray Bradbury

Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me About Crying in the Shower?
What a fair fine place to cry.
What a rare place to let go
And know that no one hears---
Let fall your tears which, with the rain that falls,
Appall nobody save yourself, and standing there
You wear your sadness, properly assuaged,
Your head and face massaged by storms of spring
Or, if you think it, autumn rain.
You drain yourself away to naught, the move to joy;
But sadness must come first, it must be bought.
A thirst for melancholy, then, must find its place
To stand in the corners and know grief;
The last leaf on the tree may turn you there,
Or just the way the wind, with cats, 
Prowls down the garden grass
Or some boy passing on a bike,
Selling the end of summer with a shout, 
Or some toy left like doubt upon a walk,
Or some girl’s smile that, heedless, cracks the heart, 
In all your house is empty, still,
Your children gone, their warm rooms chill,
Their summer-oven beds unyeasted, flat, 
Waiting for cats to visit some half-remembered ghost
In the long fall.
So, for absolutely no good reason at all
Old oceans rise
One’s eyes are filled with salt; 
Something unknown then dies and must be mourned.
Then standing beneath the shower at noon or night
Is right and proper and good--
One’s interior land is wonderfully nourished by tears:
The years that you brought to harvest
Are properly scythed down and laid,
The games of love you played are ribboned and filed, unbound
So freely found then, know it, let it go
From out your eyes and with the sweet rain flow.
But now, good boys, strong gentlemen, take heed: 
This stuff is not for women, lost, alone;
The need is yours as well as theirs.
Take women’s wisdom for your own.
Take sorrow’s loan and let your own cares free
Christ, give it a try!
Not to learn how to weep is, lost fool,
But to learn how to die.
Stand weeping there from midnight until morn,
Then from impacted wisdom shorn, set free,
Leap forth to laugh in freshborn children’s hour and shout:
Oh, damn you, maids, that’s what it’s all about?
Sweet widows with your wisdom, blast you all to hell!
Why, why God, oh why,
Why wouldn’t someone tell me about crying in the shower.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Old Kentucky Home

Photo Credit: Whit Chandler

The best thing about the Kentucky Derby is watching the crowd, trained to roar, sing "My Old Kentucky Home." The alcohol’s been flowing for hours, beautiful women, clad in spring hats, sway and everyone proudly sings the words of their own national anthem.  At least my observation through the years; see for yourself Saturday afternoon.

Click link below to hear former Kentucky Governor Albert B. "Happy" Chandler sing his anthem.

Yesterday, the Derby came up in conversation with a friend who grew up in the South. We compared notes about the Infield at Churchill Downs. Our chatter, post royal wedding, was on hats over horses. She told me, “Your smile is always so radiant when you talk about living in Kentucky.” 

My Old Kentucky Home
Photo Credit: Whit Chandler

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Disappointment is OK

It is a little known fact that the bunny is the patron saint of disappointment. 

When things are going well, they are never as good as it appears. And the same holds true during disappointing times; they are never as bad as they feel.”----My Dad

Yesterday, I received some news that left me genuinely disappointed. It made me cry. It just plain hurt.
Determined to hold myself together, several rituals worked and feel worth sharing. One thing is true—to be human is to suffer disappointments both large and small.
1.    I congratulated myself for having enough hope to be disappointed. If I didn’t care, it wouldn’t have hurt. Just as grieving my brother’s death, I know that if I didn’t love so much, the healing process would be easier and quicker. Having passion and sensitivity certainly is worth a disappointment.
2.    Even with a busy day, I ate outside on my deck and admired my backyard. I prayed and felt the grace that helped me move on with my day.
3.    After a late night, I made time for a warm bath and found a couple of (small) positives about the disappointment as I let the water absorb into me. It was cleansing, both to my body and my spirit.
4.    Hugs! The power of a hug from a loved one can’t be overlooked.

So today I trust my Dad. Things just aren’t as bad as they feel. I can accept that fact.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Music Review: Blind Boone and the Marshfield Tornado

Newport Classic (2008)

Of the one thousand residents living in Marshfield in 1880, ninety-two died, and countless others suffered minor to serious injuries. Children were orphaned; Dan and Mollie Wright perished, but their baby, still alive, was found in his father’s arms playing with a twig. Three month old Minnie Dugan lost her sister and mother. A neighbor discovered Minnie the next morning, suspended from a tree limb by her clothing.
While Marshfield suffered, a blind, Missouri-born, African-American piano player stood at the threshold of a successful musical career that spanned five decades. “Blind” Boone’s manager and future brother-in-law, John Lange, read a newspaper account of the tornado to Boone. Inspired by the story, Boone wrote a commemorative composition on the tornado; many consider it his masterpiece. The tune opened with chime-like sounds representative of the Sunday evening church service interrupted by the tornado, followed by a loud imitation of thunder and fire bells. Crashing, roaring chords depicting the destruction wrought by the tornado climaxed the piece which closed wit the soft sounds of the storm’s demise--including the sound of rainwater dripping from the ravaged structures.
During Boone’s first Marshfield performance,the musician’s rendition of “The Marshfield Tornado” turned the concert hall into bedlam. The realism of the piece evoked such strong memories that a number of people rushed outside, assuming another storm was approaching. Although he attempted to calm the audience with a performance of “Dixie” it was too late. Thereafter, Boone traditionally closed his performances with the tornado piece. 
(excerpt from "Webster County: ‘Blind’ Boone and the Marshfield Tornado," by Ann L Rogers, in Marking Missouri History, edited by James W. Goodrich and Lynn Wolf Gentzler)