Saturday, December 3, 2011

Practice What I Preach

Angie, my 20 year old daughter, is spending this semester in Spain. She created a blog before she left and has posted to it a few times through the semester. I've nagged her all semester to post more often. We want to hear about her everyday life and challenges. She counters by saying she doesn't want to post unless she has something profound and significant to say. I grumble at her and say, "Just write a blog post! No matter what you write, readers will enjoy it and learn something and you'll be better for having done some writing."

OK, Mom, what about you? When was the last time you posted to YOUR blog? Don't you have anything to say? You'll be better for having done some writing.

So, I am committing myself to post to my blog every week for at least 6 weeks and try to maintain the habit. Now, for those of you who maintain multiple blogs and post daily, this is small potatoes, but for me it is a pretty significant committement. Here goes...

These are wonderfully busy days. A lot is going on at work. There are church activities galore. Amy is graduating in a couple weeks. Angie is coming home soon. Addie is either at an activity or at the computer doing homework every minute. Jack is working hard and caring for his Mom faithfully and lovingly. Many of the Klemm Clan is coming here for Christmas. It's a Wonderful Life.

And then the phone call. The BIG C. Pull out the pink ribbons. Jack's sister Linda has breast cancer. I want to fall apart and cancel everything and drive to Las Cruces and hug her and play Nursemaid and Good Aunt and Spiritual Advisor. But in typical Klemm fashion, Linda convinces me this is just another bump in the road. She's logical and optimistic and comforting. She's comforting me!

I have always seen Linda as the matriarch of the family. Even when her dad was alive and her mom was healthy, she ran the family gatherings. She is the quintessential mother. She sent my girls Advent Calendars with a little wrapped gift for every day of Advent when they were little. She has planned two life-changing vacations for our family - one to hike the Grand Canyon and one to Monterey Mexico. We would never have made those trips without her encouragement and involvement. She is smart and efficient and organized. Occasionally, some in the family add the adjective bossy, but usually that adjective is reserved for me.

But best of all, she is fun. She has a great sense of humor and is quick to laugh. She goes to Las Vegas with her grown children. She goes to the beach with her grandchildren. This year she was going to spend Christmas Day freezing her butt at a Green Bay Packers game because she knew it would be fun for her husband. She thinks of fun things to do and helps everyone have fun with her.

The next several months won't be fun. They'll be hard work and pain and frustration. But all of us for whom Linda is special will be with her. We'll encourage her and pray for her and love her just like she's done for us for us in the past.

We love you Auntie Linda!!!


Friday, October 14, 2011

What I Shudda Said Wuz...

It is 1:37 a.m. and I am still up. I am replaying conversations over in my head and weighing the options of how I would act and react if I had the chance to relive the day. Why is it that some people do this and others don't? I know people who, from the time they were old enough to be conscious of the world around them, they are confident that every decision they make and every word they utter is absolutely righteous and correct. From what people should wear to what countries to invade, they have no doubt what is best for the rest of us. I, on the other hand, allow myself to be chastised and guiltridden for getting in the express lane with 12 items instead of 10. Am I more studid than they are? Am I selfish and thoughtless? Am I just immature?

My mother used to say, "The rest of the world must be right sometimes." Well, I am thinking, "I must be right sometimes. I must be!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is it about going to the movies that make people act a fool? Is that once we’ve paid $9.00 for a ticket and $4.50 for a Coke we think we own the place? Or is it that we’ve gotten so used to renting and downloading movies at home that we forget we need to use another set of manners when we are at the movie theater? Jack and girls were watching the last Harry Potter in a theater with a dad who had 4 children from 2 to 12 who talked out loud and ran around the entire movie until an usher asked them to leave. This weekend, at The Help, a woman who was sitting ON THE END OF THE ROW got very angry with me because I had to go by her to get to my seat before the movie even started. She thought by sitting on the end of the row she owned it. She told me to go to the other end of the row, where, by the way, I had to crawl over 8 people!

How do we restore civility to a society? You can’t dictate it or legislate it. I will admit, I did not handle the situation well with the woman in the movie. I got angry and was sharp with her. I needed to have taken a deep breath and gently explained how the movie theater works. All seats are available and each ticketholder is only in control of where they sit, not where anyone else sits. I needed to do this kindly and gently. She was probably in her late sixties and may have just been a crotchety old lady who gripes about everything. She is probably someone’s grandmother. I should have given her that respect.

So as I worked through the last paragraph, I kind of answered my own question about restoring civility. If we respond to rudeness by pointing it out with kindness, unfailingly, every time, then civility may follow. We shouldn’t tolerate inappropriate behavior, but we shouldn’t respond with our own brand of inappropriateness.

This takes work. It takes thinking about it all the time. It takes pausing before you speak and thinking “Is what I am about to say or do KIND?” Help me to do this and our little corner of the world will be a more pleasant place to live – and to go to the movies.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Strange Obsession

Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with empty, decaying houses. Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, there were buildings of varying size standing out in the middle of the cotton or wheat fields. What happened to cause the owners to leave? Did they get rich and move to a brick house in town? Did the father leave and the mother and kids have to move in with grandparents? Did they leave all their furniture?

I have continued to ask these questions even more forcefully as I've aged and learned the weight of a mortgage and the responsibility of keeping a roof over my family's head. Many of these houses are a product of the dust bowl and the migration from farm life to the urban setting. Fire codes and county building inspectors are making sure there are fewer and fewer of these houses to catch my attention. Before they are entirely gone from the landscape, I'm trying to capture some of them on film. I've paired them with poetry that seems appropriate. My intent has been to use only poetry that the copyright has run out so I'm not stealing. I'm sharing them here on the blog but I eventually hope to find a way to publish the poetry and photos in a coffee table book. Let me know what you think.

The House With Nobody In It

WHENEVER I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

Gaelic Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The House on the Hill

The House on the Hill

They are all gone away,
The house is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one today
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.

Why is it then we stray
Around the sunken sill?
They are all gone away.

And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.

There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.

Edwin Arlington Robinson