Elaboration

"blah blah blah" written in different colors around a woman typing on a laptop

Recently, I had enough free time to explore the WordPress blogosphere, and two things stuck out to me.  First, I became keenly aware of a quirk of mine that I constantly battle.  Second, I (re)discovered and began to follow a great blog called “The View From my Window.”

In her blog, Laura presents a lot of poetry, photos, and thought-provoking stories.  She has inspired me to share my thoughts about my glaring quirk in poem form:

I’m so wordy;

Please forgive me.

I often manage to find a way to express myself in sentences that contain many extra adjectives, phrases, and the like, until the sentences ramble on to become 20 to 30 words long (or even longer) instead of merely…

Two or Three.

~Merry Hearts Medicine, 2016

 

This tendency might be an asset in awkward social situations, but maybe not so much in written words, eh?  I don’t know.  Thanks to those who bear with me and read my ramblings anyway!

~~~~~~~

What’s your opinion on writing styles?  Do you prefer the facts, short and sweet?  Or do detailed descriptions tickle your fancy?

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Childhood Misadventures Put to Verse

Here are a couple of the more lighthearted poems by my neighbors that I promised to share.  I hope you enjoy a chuckle from them!

I told my daughter “These are the kinds of things kids did to entertain themselves before they had all the screens and electronics.”

Bill

by Betty Ferguson

There’s a story that’s told
About a boy named Bill,
Who stuck his finger in a hole
In a tractor wheel.

old red Massey Ferguson Deluxe Tractor sitting in a field

To his dismay
When he tried to pull it out,
Oh no! I’m stuck tight
To little brother he did shout.

You see, Bill was always curious
And it would get him in trouble.
Then he would holler for little brother
To come running on the double.

But this time little brother said,
I’m tired; I think I’ll go home.
Bill began to plead and cry,
Please don’t leave me alone.

Now, little brother laughed,
He thought it would be such fun,
To leave Bill stuck tight,
Until the set of sun.

But along came Dad
With a special tool,
By a few quick turns
He released the fool.

Now the moral of this story,
And I’m sure of that.
It was curiosity,
That killed the cat.

 

Reminisce

by Billy Ferguson

Sometimes when I do reminisce
Of some of the days gone by.
About the things that happened then
That make me laugh or cry.
About the time I was herding the cows
My little brother and me
I thought to myself how to have some fun
With his little red wagon you see.

Jersey cow wearing a bell and walking down a dirt road

So I tied it secure to old jersey’s tail
And turned her loose to run.
Little brother hanging with all his might,
Boy was I having some fun.
But then she turned and to the highway went
As cars hit the ditch on both sides.
Little brother hanging for the ride of his life,
While laughter was splitting my sides.

Then about this time over it went
As he plowed up the street with his nose
I rushed to his side and I helped him get up.
He was bloody from his head to his toes.
When we finally got home with explaining to do
My story Mom wouldn’t buy.
I found it much better to tell her the truth
Not cover it up with a lie.

To this very day when I think of the time
When little brother took his most famous ride
His face and his nose were both busted indeed
But from the backside Mom took off my hide.

 

Time and Attention

Everyone grieves differently. One person might look at a friend’s grief and think, “It’s been a year, why hasn’t she moved on with her life yet?”

The truth is that when someone suffers a great loss, the hurt doesn’t go away in a month or two, even though the cards and visitors usually do.  Even the most sympathetic ear and the warmest hugs are gone within a few short weeks as friends and neighbors get wrapped back up into their busy lives.

~~~~~~~

I’d like to introduce you to my neighbor, Mr. Ferguson.  What a character he is!  In his long life, I think he’s never met a stranger.  The moment you encounter him, you are accosted with a barrage of good-natured jokes and gibes.  With a sprightly twinkle in his eye, he weaves tales that make you wonder at first what kind of crazy guy you’ve encountered!  Then, with a hearty laugh, he dismisses the stories:  “Ha ha!  I’m just teasing you!”  You never know what he’s going to say next.

That was the Mr. Ferguson I met several years ago when he and his wife moved into the house across the street.  Today, if you were to stop by to share a laugh, you’d look into eyes that, rather than twinkling in delight, appear red-rimmed and tired.  His jokes are now a rare treat, rather than a regular occurrence, because he carries the burden of the loss of his loving wife.

When we talk to him these days, the sorrow in his eyes tears at my heart.  Though we do what we can to help lift his burden (and though his family takes great care of him, too), we know it is still exclusively his to carry.  We do things like visiting him for a quick chat, taking him food, etc.  From his recliner, he can see our carport through his front window; so whenever we come home in the evenings and the bright motion light clicks on, our family lines up and waves to him, or bows, or dances a little jig.  These small gestures entertain him and distract him for a moment from his long days.

Though I’ve always highly valued our privacy and safety and never could stand to leave the drapes open after dark, we have gotten in a habit of leaving our living room curtain open in the evenings, just to keep a better eye on him.  He noticed and said it makes him feel less lonely.  He said he particularly likes it when he sees that we are still awake when he gets up to get ready for bed.  “I don’t know why.  It just makes me feel safer, and not so alone, I guess,” he told me one day.

I’m ashamed to say that our visits to his house have become less frequent over the last five months, but we make sure to sit down with him once or twice per week.  A surprise I’ve discovered over these months is that the visits are not just for him.  Spending time with him warms my heart.  It makes me count my blessings, let little things go, and hold my loved ones tighter.

Last week when I knocked on the door and entered his living room, his eyes were particularly bleary and red.  “What have you been up to today?” I asked.

“I’ve been sitting here crying,” he answered with his head bowed.  Then, he shared with me a thin, spiral-bound booklet his wife had made several years ago.  He said she had copies printed for all their friends and family, but that this was the only copy he had left.  He handled it delicately, and his eyes glowed with love as he looked down at the booklet.

“It’s all true, and it’s all straight from her heart,” he said as he extended it toward me.  I was almost afraid to touch his treasure when he asked me to take it home and look through it.

It was a sweet, thoughtful, and entertaining book, chronicling their family history and the loss of their adult son to cancer.   It also contained a variety of family photos, stories, poems, and anecdotes.

With Mr. Ferguson’s permission, I’d like to share one of her poems with you:

 

My Garden

by Betty Ferguson

I looked at my garden;
It was in need of repair.
I asked the master gardener
To help me with its care.

He said in place of complaining
Plant seeds of daily prayer.
Then take words of kindness
And sow them everywhere.

Where once there was doubt
Let faith take its place.
Sprinkle that with hope
And lots and lots of grace.

Charity is a must,
Meeting people’s needs.
Now fill these places with joy,
And edge it with good deeds.

My garden now is blooming.
Its fragrance fills the air.
To reap a bountiful harvest,
I must tend it with care.

~~~~~~~

There are a couple of funny poems in the book, as well, about Mr. Ferguson’s childhood misadventures.  I think I’ll borrow the book again and share those with you later.

One last note: Please, today, look around you more carefully than usual, find someone who is hurting, and share your time and attention with them.  You may make their burdens a little easier to bear for a moment, and you will be blessed as well.  This world is full of too much “ME” and not enough “WE.”

share time and attention

Fighting an Uphill Battle

This poem is dedicated to my mother, who is a true, tough “soldier” in this world. The words in this poem represent the message her example shows to me. May I one day have even a tenth of her fortitude in the face of adversity!

man dangling from rock cliff by fingertips

photo by Bill Hatcher

When you seek and you pray

But the answer seems to be “NO,”

When you search and you’ve tried

Every way you know how to go,

When you climb and you claw

Up steep mountains that only grow

Until you can’t see the top

Where you long to be,

Until the one you’ve become

Is no longer “me,”

Until hope begins to fade

Because you can’t see

How to escape

the suffering and pain,

How to find light

Through the darkness and rain,

How to stand tall

And start living again

The life you once knew.

So, what can you do?

First, trust in Him Who

Can carry you through.

His love can renew

The broken and blue.

He’ll be true to you.

with love,Merry Hearts Medicine watermark. MerryHeartsMedicine.wordpress.com

 

When I said, “My foot slips;” Your mercy, O Lord, held me up.

In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

~~Psalm 94:18-19

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Dirty Dishes

Do you have a chore that you tend to put off until the last minute, the chore you can’t stand to do?  A friend of mine despises sorting socks.  She said it drives her so crazy that she refuses to do it.  When anyone in her home wants to keep their feet cozy and warm, they have to dig through a laundry basket filled with the whole family’s clean socks.

colorful, clean socks

One of the most distasteful chores to me is cleaning dirty dishes.  I guess it’s the never-ending nature of it that gets to me.  After stepping away from a sparkling clean kitchen, I’ll turn around to get a drink of water or something, and *POOF* another dirty dish has sneaked into the sink (or appeared on the counter, coffee table, TV tray, or a few other odd places).

clean dishes and cooking utensils

Many years ago, a magazine I was reading contained a poem about being thankful for dirty dishes.  In hopes of improving my attitude, I made a small poster of the poem and hung it on the cabinet beside the kitchen sink.  When feeling particularly cranky about having to scour food-encrusted plates–again–I would read it out loud while scrubbing the dishes.

Having a dishwasher helps tremendously these days.  I still tend to procrastinate on doing dishes, but my attitude is better after years of reading this poem:

poem about thanking God for dirty dishes

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Teaching Minds and Touching Hearts

Teachers.

What thoughts come to your mind when you read that word?  I’m sure many of us can call to mind certain teachers who were especially memorable; some for good reasons, and others not so much.  Today as I thought of a poem I’d like to share with you, a clear image of one of my high school English teachers came to mind.  My first impression of her was that of an extremely particular lady who gave tons of homework.  By the end of high school, she was a dear friend.

This English teacher constantly had us writing:  free writing journals every day, grammar practice, responses to writing prompts, you name it.  She is the person responsible for me having legible cursive handwriting.  Oh, the frustration of writing twenty perfectly spelled words, and then having points counted off my grade just because a letter F did not loop the right way or a letter A was not completely “closed” at the top!  I was thankful throughout college and adulthood, though, for my quick, neat handwriting.  (Sadly, now that I use a keyboard most of the time, I am losing my handwriting skills.  It’s so much faster and easier to type!)

I believe the most fun we a had in her classes was memorizing, reciting, writing, and analyzing poetry.  Out of the dozens of poems I studied during two years in her classes, here is one I can still recite from memory because of its imagery and message:

 

The Road Not Taken

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
.
b&w film copy neg.
photo from the Library of Congress