I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Friday, March 27, 2015

What Makes Me Happy and What Makes Me Sad

Last month, this blog had 2506 page views from the United States. We also had 115 page views last month from France and people from many other countries clicked on this site.

I don't monitor the statistics on a regular basis because I don't want to get obsessed with how many people read this blog. But it makes me happy to see that it reaches far beyond our local borders.

I hope people in other countries learn something about life in this country from reading my  posts and your comments. Some of those people who view my blog are simply Spam. I discard them every day or two. But I am particularly happy when my dear cousin, in her 80s now, tells me how much she loves to read my blog posts. She prints them out and shares them with her son, she says. 

Friends tell me they read my posts but don't leave comments. They email me instead. That is fine with me. Often, I share this blog on Facebook, and that reminds non-subscribers to check out what is happening here.

As a writer, my goal is to communicate with other people. I wish to express my feelings and thoughts, tell my stories that I think entertain and enlighten, and blogging has turned out to be one of the things I most enjoy.

I have never met in person some of you, but you are my dear friends. It all started when I set up the Netwest Writers blog in 2007.  Soon I heard from a lovely woman in Morganton, NC. She has now moved back to New England to be near her family. We never met in person, but I like her and am glad we met online. We have both lost our husbands and had to travel the lonely journey of widowhood. We are both writers, only she has produced a few novels, and I have produced more poetry and short prose.

I don't use all the Social Media that is available and add Friends that I don't really know. It seems that Twitter brings out the meanness in people, but I am fortunate not to have to read that, and no one posts ugly remarks or hurtful things on my Facebook pages.

I admit that I did go in and block some of the political rhetoric on Facebook that is not directed at me, but hurts me to read because it is hateful and mean-spirited. It does nothing to bring about the good will we need in this country. I have never felt the need to criticize celebrities or political figures that I don't personally know. I think it is unfair to accuse someone or spread rumors about someone who can't defend himself. I imagine the pain it brings to them and their families when they read the garbage anonymous people write.

I can't bring myself to call our U.S. President, of either party, liar, stupid, and worse. He has the worst job in this world, I think.  All I ask is that he keep us out of war if at all possible.

I try to remember the rule Barry lived by. "If you can't say anything good about someone, then don't say anything at all." I have not always been that understanding and caring. But I realize now that when I judged or gossiped about someone, I felt awful later. I also have learned that one of the reasons I spoke negatively about another was because I was feeling insecure. I was jealous or afraid for some reason. If I have been hurt, I have spoken in anger and said unkind things. And later regretted I said them. I don't hold grudges forever but some people do. I don't forget, but I can forgive.

I also know that I have abundant empathy for those in need. My father was empathetic for the underdog. He had to struggle much of his life, and he felt the pain of those who were always at the bottom trying to rise. I have been told that I did all the feeling for my family. I experienced painful emotions, suffered for others, more than I should. I guess I still do. I wear the badge of sensitive proudly. If I didn't have that sensitive nature, I'd not  write poetry. I'd not write anything.

A year or two ago, I was deeply hurt by a few people I thought of as friends. It has taken a long time to recover from the betrayal and the downright physical pain I suffered at the time. I didn't understand why I was targeted with this malice. I probably will never understand, but I know I was not at fault. Perhaps those who sought to hurt me have their own feelings of inadequacy, and I am sorry for them. Those who know me and love me never falter in that love, and I try to always show my love for them.

My life is good, and I am doing what I most enjoy. I look forward to the spring and summer. In May our family will hold another reunion in south Georgia. We will laugh and tell family stories, and remember our loved ones who have departed. I will see some that I never or seldom see now that I live in North Carolina, older and very young family members. What more could I ask for?

This is my some of my family and friends at Lake Blackshear in Cordele,GA a couple of years ago. My brother said it was the best reunion he had ever been to. That made me proud as I organized it and brought them all together.
 I never hear the word reunion that I don't think about the time some of us attended a family gathering thinking we were at my mother's family reunion.
I wrote a story about that day and submitted it to Reunions Magazine. They published it in two parts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I am interviewed by Joan Ellen Gage. You can read it online.

I hope you will take a minute and read an interview with me published on Joan Ellen Gage's site.

Thanks so much, Joan, for posting my poem and for the interview. I interview others most of the time, but it was nice to be the interviewee this time. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Steve Harvey, one of my first writing teachers, speaks in Hayesville

I wish all of you could be here in our little town to hear Steve Harvey talk about his writing and his new book just out. You can find his book on Kindle if you read e-books or at Amazon.com 
I have enjoyed reading it and stayed up way too late last night because of it.

Steve was one of my first writing teachers at the John C. Campbell Folk School a couple of decades ago when I came to this enchanting part of the world. He is one of the best essayist, and I have read his previous books. Bound for Shady Grove is my favorite, I think, because in it he takes us on a tour of the music he likes and the musicians he admires with the theme of banjo which he plays in a delightful group called, Butternut Creek and Friends. Barry and I followed their music and loved their concerts here in western NC and in North Georgia. 

Steve is quiet and soft spoken but always seems to have a twinkle in his eyes, like he knows something we don't know. I am very excited that he, now retired from teaching at Young Harris College, is going to hold a workshop for us at my studio this summer. 

His memoir, The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, includes details that enrich the already haunting story of his mother's suicide when he was a young boy. She caught him and his little friend looking at a Playboy magazine. Instead of scolding and making him feel like a bad kid, she sent his friend home then sat down with a book of artists' paintings and taught him to appreciate the beauty of a woman's body. She told him the Playboy pictures degraded women, but it was natural that he enjoy seeing nude pictures of women.
That gave such insight into the love she had for him and her wonderful parenting skills in spite of her deep dark depression. 
I admit, I'm very excited about his talk on Saturday, March 28, and even more excited about having another class with this teacher I have always admired. 

Author Chat with Steven Harvey
Joe’s Coffee House and Trading Post
82 Main Street, Hayesville, NC 28904

Nonfiction Author Dr. Steven Harvey will Speak in Hayesville

Saturday, March 28, 4:30 p.m. Joe’s Coffee House and Trading Post, in Hayesville, NC will host Dr. Steven Harvey, author and University Professor, who will talk about his new memoir, The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, a memoir about coming to terms with the suicide of his mother when he was a young boy. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

The book was published by Ovenbird Books as part of the “Judith Kitchen Select” series. A section of the memoir appeared in The Best American Essays 2013 selected by Cheryl Strayed. He is also the author of three books of personal essays. A Geometry of Lilies, Lost in Translation, and Bound for Shady Grove and edited an anthology of essays written by men on middle age called In a Dark Wood.

He is a professor emeritus of English and creative writing at Young Harris College, a member of the nonfiction faculty in the Ashland University MFA program in creative writing, and a senior editor for River Teeth magazine. He is the creator of The Humble Essayist, a website designed to promote literary nonfiction.

He lives in the north Georgia mountains. You can learn more about Steve and his work at his web site: www.steven-harvey-author.com .

This program is sponsored by Writers Circle around the Table. Contact Glenda Beall, 828-389-4441 for more information.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What do you say when someone is suffering?

This post by "Mom" who writes the blog: Maybe someone should write that down. Writerly ways for Family Historians and Storytellers, is important for many reasons.

We all have had a sick friend or relative, or know someone who has lost a loved one, or is suffering for some reason. 

What do we do? We ask if there is anything we can do to help. We say, "Please let me know what I can do for you."

The woman writing this post, "I'm so sorry, what can I do to help?" is a cancer survivor and, like me, knows too many friends and family who are suffering at this time.

I have a friend caring for a daughter with cancer. Another friend recently had a tumor removed from her bladder. A dear cousin who lives alone is suffering with extreme pain and needs 24 hour care. Three little children might be on their way to foster care instead of safely home with loving parents. Another cousin passed away last week. Everywhere, we see and know loved ones who are suffering. 

Six years ago, I was the one suffering -- suffering grief and physical exhaustion from caring for my husband with cancer. My neighbors brought me food, listened to me talk and comforted me in many ways. But most people asked the question and I couldn't think of one thing to tell them.

The writer of this post tells us what we can do and should do without waiting to be told. She gave permission to re-blog her article, but you can read it best by clicking on the link below.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

I could be called a tree hugger.

I could be called a "tree hugger" I suppose, if that means one who loves and values trees. I grew up in the deep south where trees grow everywhere, overnight, it seems. On our farm we had many varieties of tree including several kinds of oak. Beside our house grew a large post oak tree whose large limbs sprouted leaves as big as a grown man's hand.  It shaded the ground where my sister and I played as children, where my father rested in his chair after working all day in his big garden, and where we lounged at night to cool off before going to bed. We had no air conditioning when I was a little girl.

Certain trees carved a niche in my mind, my very soul, it seems, over my lifetime. The big oak beside the house was my dearest tree, but there was a chinaberry tree in our back yard, and I loved to climb that tree, sit among the green leaves in summer and observe birds up close as they flew in and perched near me. I felt invisible, encircled by the branches and hugged by the tree.

When Barry and I married and moved to the farm, the acreage we owned was covered in pines, oaks, persimmon, and lots of other trees that I didn't know by name. We chose our building site although we didn't have the money to build at that time. We placed our temporary mobile home so that a glorious oak tree shaded our front yard. That tree had a huge hollow in the trunk where our first cat had her kittens while we were away. The minute we returned, while we were unpacking our car, mama cat began bringing her five babies to the front door. Once inside she took them to the guest room and deposited them under the bed. And there they stayed until big enough to move on to new homes.

Behind our back yard fence, at the edge of the woods, grew an old oak with long, curving limbs that almost touched the ground. I called it the Disney tree because it reminded me of the animated films with interesting trees.While our house was being built, this area became part of our yard. Barry hung a swing on one of those sturdy limbs.

I spent hours sitting there watching the carpenters grow my dream house. From concrete foundation to the steep roof where my balcony would overlook more trees near and in the distance, where I would paint with north light pouring through ten foot windows. Our house, built with love, developed like a fetus inside me.

Now I live surrounded by dogwood, poplar, pines, oaks, and sourwood--a veritable forest so thick in summer I seldom see the deer trek up and down the ridge. My favorite tree at this mountain house was the old, old dogwood with branches that hung over our deck, where birds rested eye to eye with me. I felt I had come full circle. Just as I had perched high in the chinaberry tree when I was little, I could sit in my rocker wrapped in the leaves and flowers of a tree ageing as I was.

One day a strong wind took off a big limb of the dogwood. I was told the tree was dying and should be cut down. Why would I be reluctant to cut down this tree? I have thirty dogwood trees on this lot. But that tree was special just as the 300 year old tree that grew beside my childhood home. I cried the day it was cut down and every piece destroyed. I miss it still each time I drive up to the place where I grew up. I see the huge emptiness  beside the house and I hurt. The empty feeling in my heart reminds me of the family we once were.

I hope you enjoy this poem about the old oak tree beside my childhood home.

The Guardian
By Glenda Beall

Past the cotton fields, the church, and there,
up on the hill, centuries old, the Oak tree
guarded our homestead, a giant sentinel,
stalwart against all forces.

A bolt of lightning cracked her side, melted
the swing chain.
She never wilted.

Dangerous winds ripped her branches,
littered the ground.
She did not fall.

Her massive shape shielded children playing,
provided shade for corn shucking, pea shelling,
cane peeling and watermelon eating.

Under her leafy cover, on summer evenings,
a youth enthralled his rapt young sisters,
telling tales that left them begging, just one more.

Beneath her canopy of branches, a bulldog
birthed six puppies on a warm September night.
The oak spread her limbs across the yard, beside the house,
a mother hen protecting chicks, she welcomed our family home.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Very Old Photograph to be re-run March 26

I heard from Jayne Ferrer today. On www.YourDailyPoem.com, to celebrate her first five years of the online poetry magazine, she is posting poems from her first year online. She has re-posted some of my poems already, and will publish another on March 26. This is what she said today:

“As the first year retrospective continues, "A Very Old Photograph" will run on March 26, just as it did in 2010.

It's been a fun trip down Memory Lane, and I've loved bringing those first poems to a wider audience, but I'm looking forward to sharing new work and seeing what Year 6 brings to YDP!”

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, Editor

She has accepted three of my new poems that will reach her large number of subscribers in the coming year. Thanks, Jayne.

My Mother

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 2, was Barry's birthday. I can't let that special day go by without writing about him. I'll also share some photos.

Barry, Glenda and Gay on vacation out west-photo by Stu Moring
He was not big on celebrating his birthday, but Gay and Stu, and our friends the Clarkes, had begun a tradition of celebrating both Gay's birthday on the 23 of February and Barry's birthday on March 2 with one event. 

The Clarkes often had us over to their house or we would go somewhere, the six of us to eat and drink wine, and enjoy the day.

I remember one year when the weather was particularly nice in late February and we drove to a tumbling creek where water splashed and spun in circles around large smooth boulders. We ate our sandwiches sitting in the warm sun on one of the huge rocks. It was one of those days that stays with you forever because of the pure joy and happiness we all felt and the love we had for each other.

Glenda and Barry on a creek in North Georgia Mountains

Barry and Gay, my best friends and biggest supporters of whatever I wanted, had the same signs on the Horoscope. Pisces. In many ways they were similar. Neither liked to dwell on details but would rather glance at the big picture and move on. Barry was not a worrier and neither is Gay. At least she seems to accept that things aren't going to always go her way, so she puts the problem behind her and goes on. Barry used to tell me that I worried about things that would likely never happen. He didn't worry and if something bad or difficult came up, he handled it at that time.

That is not the way I work. That is the way the government works. Reactive thinking. I hate that.
I am proactive. I plan and think ahead about what might happen so that I can prevent it. 
Good planning prevents most mishaps, I believe, but Barry felt that worrying or over-thinking was a waste of good time, energy and it was stressful. He was good for me because he often talked me out of a major melt-down when I imagined the worst scenario. But I was good for him when I prevented a disaster by thinking ahead. 

We fit together like a couple of puzzle pieces, frayed around the edges, maybe, but our ins and outs matched perfectly.

Now there are five instead of six of us, and we celebrate Gay's birthday with lunch at a favorite restaurant. We don't forget Barry's birthday, however, and we can now talk about him and laugh at his zany remarks and cute ways, his comments that made us all laugh. His spirit is with us and we all miss him, but cherish the happy times we had together. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Home Remedy Saved My Sister's Life - Happy Birthday, Gay

Gay Council 
   Mother's Miracle Home Remedy
Glenda Beall

I felt as tall as a tree riding on the shoulders of my brother Max that twenty third day of February. I had spent the entire day at Mrs. Womble's house and when my brothers arrived home from school they were sent to retrieve me.  As we all approached our weathered grey farm house, another neighbor lady came out and stood on the long back porch.  She called out to us with a big smile.
"You kids have a brand new baby sister."
The boys were excited and couldn't wait to see her.  My mother had gained weight and lost her girlish figure after birthing six children. She had hidden this pregnancy until the last few weeks.  I suppose my brothers knew she was expecting, but I was too little to understand. 

Rex, the youngest brother was five years older than me.  Hal was ten and Max was thirteen.  The oldest brother, Ray was sixteen.  My big sister, June, was away at college.  I was delighted to have a baby sister to play with, but to my disappointment, she was so small that I wasn't allowed to hold her.  I still loved her.  She was so pretty with a head full of dark curls.  Even though she took my coveted place as the baby in the family, I was not jealous. Mother named her Manita Gay, a name she found in a book she read, and I have always thought it was just beautiful.

The year before Gay was born, Daddy applied for a FHA loan to buy a one hundred twenty five acre farm in the eastern part of the county. The family moved into a run down house with no running water and no indoor plumbing.
Christmas Tree farming Gay and Glenda

When Gay was less than a year old she became seriously ill with double pneumonia.  I'm sure all of us were sick that dreary winter.  Our only heat other than the wood stove in the kitchen was a fireplace.  At night our beds were piled high with quilts my mother had inherited from my grandmother.

Even though money was very scarce, when Mother had tried all of her home remedies to know avail, she took my baby sister to a doctor.Antibiotics were on the horizon but not used in our town at that time. The doctor knew very little to do for such a serious illness. After a few visits it became obvious his medicine was not working.

He shook his head sadly and said, "Mrs. Council, there is nothing else I can do for her."

Mother cried as she sat before the fire cradling her infant daughter in her arms.  The child was burning with fever and so weak she couldn't nurse.Word spread among the neighboring farms that the Council baby was dying.  Mrs. DeBarry and Mrs. Womble came to sit with my mother. They took turns holding little Gay.

I clung to my mother, knowing something was wrong but not understanding how wrong. The women talked softly trying to keep Mother's mind occupied and off the terrible scene that was unfolding in that room. When the fire burned low, one of them threw on another log. The sparks flew, looking like shooting stars against a black sky, and a puff of smoke billowed out into the room. It burned my eyes. I buried my face against my mother. She smelled good like the bacon she had fried that morning for breakfast. I climbed into her lap. She held me but hardly noticed me.

"There must be something else we can try," Mrs. DeBarry said, as she took Gay from Mrs. Womble's arms.

"I've never done it before, but I heard my mother talk about making a tar and tallow plaster one time and curing somebody of a real bad cold," Mother said, "Maybe I should try that."
"Well, it sure won't hurt," Mrs. Womble said.
"I'll get everything together." Mother said.

 First she rendered hard beef fat until she had a quantity of tallow. Next she went to her rag bag and found a soft piece of flannel. She ripped it into two strips. On one strip she spread a thick coating of pine tar and covered that with a coating of the beef tallow.  The poultice was warmed by the fire and placed flannel side toward the skin, on the sick baby.  The other strip of flannel was wrapped around the baby and the plaster to hold it on.

Then the women sat down again to wait, each one praying that the home remedy would work.  Hours passed and it grew dark.  Mother lit the kerosene lamp. It spread a warm glow over the room and created dark shadows on the drab walls.  Daddy and the boys came in from doing farm chores.  Daddy helped us with supper and Mother put me to bed in the same room where the women held their vigil.  Daddy sat in his rocking chair, rolled his Bull Durham cigarettes and smoked silently.

Mrs. DeBarry, a large, kindly woman and my mother's best friend, cradled Gay.  She placed her plump cheek against the baby's face and said, "I believe she is a little cooler feeling."

A few minutes later Gay opened her eyes and moved her little arms.  She reached up and touched the concerned face of the woman who held her.

"Miz Council," Mrs. DeBarry said in her slow drawl, "I believe this child's fever has broke."
She was right. Gay's temperature dropped to normal and soon she was able to nurse again. It took several weeks for the baby to completely recover, but soon she was a happy toddler, and we were all enjoying her just as though she had never been ill.

Her recovery was a turning point in my life because she and I are as close as twins. The day I was told I had a baby sister no one told me that she would be my best friend always, my confidant, and my biggest supporter in all that I do. Whenever there are problems in my life she is there to share them, and we have found that together we can weather any storm. My life growing up on the farm would have been extremely lonely without her, and I don't believe that I would be the same person I am today without Gay in my life.

First published in: Moonshine and Blind Mules and other Western North Carolina Tales, 2006  (anthology)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do You Know Paul Byrom, the Irish Tenor?

On this cold snowy day in western NC, I've been safe and warm and working on some of the many projects I keep going. Today I updated my files on published poems and writing and those rejections I get as well. It is time consuming and one of those things I postpone.

But while I work, I am listening to Celtic Thunder sing those wonderful songs from Ireland. I can hardly sit still when they sing those lively ones. Back in December, I went to see Paul Byrom who was one of those singers a few years back. He has the most beautiful tenor voice. I had my picture made with him.
Hear Paul sing She in this video:

Gay, my sister, and I are going to see him again in a few weeks. He will be back in the Atlanta area. He is not only a great singer, but an excellent showman with a sense of humor. His Irish accent is fun.

There is an Irish singer in Savannah that we go to see when we are there. His name is Harry O'Donoghue  and he sings at Barry's Pub.
He also leads tours to Ireland. He is very enjoyable. If you get a chance and you like Irish music, I think you should go to see him. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to write about your family - WD article

This is a question I hear every time I teach a workshop or course on Writing About Your Life.
Often when we begin to write about family, we want to tell all the negative things about some of them. Once a student said she had been waiting a long time to tell about her awful mother.
In the article in Writers Digest, the online editor, Brian Klem, has excellent advice about how we might handle the awful mother or others who have hurt us or let us down.

At one time, I wanted to write about my distant father who seldom seemed to know I was in the room. Now, after years of writing I see that my father had another side to him that I didn't know. I learned he was similar to most men of his generation, afraid to show his soft side. Afraid he might show tears that would embarrass him. I know that is why he didn't give me away at my wedding.

Brian Klem, in this article touches on many of the things that we must take into account when we write about family. Read more here.

Write Your Life Stories at Tri County Community College in Murphy, NC with Glenda Beall, instructor.
Classes begin Tuesdays, 6 - 8 p.m. March 24 for four weeks. Contact Lisa Thompson, lthompson@tricountycc.edu   for registration.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Children's book author Laura Fritz and Casey who helps children

Laura Fritz is the author of a delightful children’s book, Poodle on a Noodle. Laura is a cancer survivor and she donates a portion of proceeds from her book to help fund research to find a cure for cancer and other childhood diseases.

Laura’s black poodle, Casey, is the main character of her book and children love him. The book is filled with pictures of Casey and his antics. Laura and Casey appear at Barnes and Noble and at fund raising events all around the Atlanta area. See the video here. 

I am very impressed with this author I met at the Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference last year in Blue Ridge, Georgia. She is a mother and her efforts are solely based on wanting to help others who face horrendous challenges as she did.

Laura impressed Dr.  Good, veterinarian, who is founder of the Homeless Pets Foundation (http://www.homelesspets.com/). He asked Laura to write a second book and she did. Poodle in a Puddle is also popular with children. This book teaches the value of putting a chip in your dog’s skin so if he is ever lost, he can be returned to his owner.

Poodle in a Puddle is a touching story about little Casey who wakes up to find his family is missing.  He sets out on a journey to find them, but loses his collar along the way.  As night begins to fall we find him all alone, cold, scared, and wet, standing in a puddle unsure which way to go.
The book is jam-packed with pictures of Casey and his journey.

Dr. Good commissioned Laura to write one more book and this one is to help increase awareness of the Homeless Pets Foundation. More about that book later.

Grandparents purchase these books for their grandchildren because they teach valuable lessons and the children enjoy hearing them read aloud over and over. Casey is real and can be seen around Atlanta, and north Georgia as he greets kids and parents with his happy little face. Find out how to order Poodle on a Noodle and Poodle in a Puddle by going to Laura’s websites, www.poodleonanoodle.com and www.poodleinapuddle.com . See how you can contact her for an appearance at your next event and check to see if she will be in your neighborhood soon.
The books are only $9.99 each plus shipping and part of the proceeds go to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and research to combat cancer and other childhood diseases. Use your PayPal account or a credit card to purchase.
Please leave a comment or email me at glendabeall@aol.com and let me know how  your kids or grandkids like these books.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Finding old poems, stories and love words in an unmarked folder

It seems we are all using these cold days of winter to go through and discard as much as we can live without. I am no exception. I worked in my studio today. I had a stack of files I had planned to look at for some time. I found the folder I made on the Gibson family and those friends of mine who had donated money to the Katrina victims after my sister and her husband set up a fund to help them save their flooded home. I felt good because the family is now doing fine and Gigi, the mother, started another restaurant but this time in Roswell, GA.

I found lots of stuff that could be tossed, but I felt my heart soar when I came across writing I had done many years before I had a computer. I have wondered for years what became of my poems, a children’s manuscript and some light verse poems poking fun at Barry’s HAM radio hobby. 

The script type took me back to the lovely little blue electric typewriter Barry gave me when he realized that I was a writer and wanted to publish my work someday. Not knowing anything about what I needed, he had no idea that I’d never submit my work in script. Even a novice like I was then knew that would not be acceptable.  Seeing those pages reminded me how he always supported me and what I wanted to do. He thought I was an excellent writer. I thought he was an excellent musician and singer as well as having many other talents. 

Barry Beall
Finding these kinds of things is what makes de-cluttering so difficult. Finding my story about Prissy the Pink Poodle stopped my work, and I had to read every word I wrote so many years ago. Among the faded papers was one on which I had written what I loved and appreciated about Barry. It was almost a love letter, but it was not written to him. 

Did I ever tell him all the things I wrote on that paper that day? Did he hear those words come from my mouth or did I just let them flow out of my fingers and embed themselves where no one but I would see them again?
 I titled the piece, Thank you, God, for Barry. It was stream of consciousness writing and no editing.

This is a little bit of what I wrote back then:
“Thank you, God, for giving him blue eyes that sometimes change and almost always twinkle with a little boy type of mischief.  I am grateful for his manly concern for my welfare, for the confidence I can place in him when I need him, which is all the time…
I want to thank you, God, for his tenderness and caring for animals, for his gentle nature and warm love for people.” 

After long years of marriage, we often take for granted that our partner knows how we feel. I hope I told him that I was thankful for all his goodness to me. I hope I said those things, especially at those times when he could use a kind word to boost his spirits and when he just needed, as we all do, to be reassured that he was loved.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Poet Named Jane Kenyon

I learned of a poet named Jane Kenyon when I first came to the mountains and began studying poetry with Nancy Simpson. I don’t remember where I found the first poem I read by Jane Kenyon, but I know I immediately felt a kinship for this woman. Her poems spoke to me like no other poems I had read. I bought her poetry books, and I read them over and over. That was in 1996. She was my favorite modern poet.

Jane Kenyon
I learned she was married to noted poet, Donald Hall, and then I learned a terrible fact. I learned she was dead. She died from leukemia in April, 1995, the year before I discovered her. I felt as though I had lost a dear friend, and no one had told me about it. Jane was too young to die, only 47 years old. I realize now that her poems reflected her feelings about her illness. I sensed the depressed woman she was when I read her poems, and I felt such empathy for her.

Donald Hall has written many poems about his wife. He published a collection about her after her death. I hated it. He seemed to be angry, a common emotion after losing a loved one, and I didn't like the foul language he used or the mood he was in when he wrote that book. I felt Jane deserved better. I know from losing my own beloved, that fresh grief doesn't make one the best writer, only a writer who needs to  pour out his pain on paper.

When I discovered the following poem by Hall in a book of  poems collected by GarrisonKeillor, Good Poems, as heard on TheWriter’s Almanac, my displeasure at Donald Hall and his book I had hated, dissipated like early morning fog. I hope you like it.

Her Long Illness
        By Donald Hall
Daybreak until nightfall,
he sat by his wife at the hospital
while chemotherapy dripped
through the catheter into her heart.
He drank coffee and read
the Globe. He paced. He worked
on poems; he rubbed her back
and read aloud. Overcome with dread,
they wept and affirmed
their love for each other, witlessly,
over and over again.
When it snowed one morning, Jane gazed
at the darkness blurred
with flakes. They pushed the IV pump
which she called Igor
slowly past the nurses’ pods, as far
as the outside door
so that she could smell the snowy air.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Favorite Computer and Why I Love it

January 10 already. Christmas came and went and suddenly we are into 2015. My calendar's white space is filling too fast. I have enjoyed my down time this winter--no pressure, no deadlines unless you count the deadlines of poetry contests I was determined to  make.

For two days I found myself organizing my documents on my old laptop. I  have done my best to go paperless, but I have problems finding what I filed. Maybe it is the way I title my files. Or, maybe it is the way I change the title several times before I'm finished with it. 

My problem might be that I use three different computers - my Windows 8 desktop, my small Dell basic laptop, and my older laptop where most  of my writing is stored. I had hoped to transfer all my work to the new desktop, but I hate that system - Windows 8. I now  hear there  will be another system coming out  in the fall, hopefully  like Windows 7 or XP,  because the majority of the people who use Windows hate Windows 8. It is a poor combination of the popular tablet method and a computer. The genius who thought this up should find another  line of work.

Also,  my new desktop computer has become inhabited by gremlins that pop up and freeze the page when I try to use Google Chrome or try to get into my blogs. Now I avoid using that computer for blogging.

There was a time when I felt I was on top of new technology, when I urged my peers to use the Internet to promote their books and help them build a platform for their work. I even garnered the admiration of a young nephew who was impressed that a person my age, and I was much younger then, administered a couple of blogs. 

I have a Facebook and a Twitter account and a  Pinterest account and a LinkedIn account and a Google plus account. But  there is no way I have time to use all those things. I try to get to Facebook once or twice a week. That is all I can or want to do.

Recently it dawned on me that my favorite computer in my house is the old dinosaur that sits in my studio. It is not connected to the Internet at all. My genealogy program and my Word program is all I use on that old relic, and it faithfully opens and endures for as long as I can sit and use it. I also have a good photography program to use with my scanner. I spend hours scanning old family photos stored in albums that are falling apart, hoping to save them for future generations, and hoping they will care. 

I don't remember when we bought this computer, but I smile when I sit down to use it. It is like an old friend that I know will not fail me. No viruses, no mal-ware, no danger of being hacked. Like an old pair of shoes that are slightly out of style, it feels comfortable to me.

Writing is a way to learn about ourselves. Often when I begin, I don't know where I will end up. 
The lesson I learned today by writing this post is that it is the Internet that stresses me, that gives me a headache. Less time on the Internet and more time on the word processor is my  goal from now on. 

The following poem comes from my interest in family history and many trips to old cemeteries. Tell me what you think.

A Southern Family Cemetery  
by Glenda Council Beall      

The creaking wrought iron gate
breaks the silence on the hill
like thunder warns of summer storms.
I feel the breath of gentle winds
that nuzzle long leaf pines and leafy oaks. 

They surround sleeping ancestors
lying in the dust of caskets facing East,
buried deep, blanket green. Lichen-covered
crumbling stones etched with family names
are barely seen through overgrown azaleas.

My great grandfather, John, veteran
of the War Between the States lies
bordered by two wives; Fanny,
dead at fifty-three, worn out
from birthing seven children.

Missouri half his age, presented 
seven more to complete his second
round before he passed away at seventy-five.
My family men are strong
and woman-wise.

This deathwatch lends my mortal
soul continuum. Strung together
by our veins, like roads on a map,
century to century, suffering the same
finality, enduring the same foreverness.

(Previously published in a different version in Stepping Stone, 2000)

Friday, January 9, 2015

100 year old enjoys her party

Monteen celebrating her 100th birthday with her brother, Earl Council
Monteen Council Hayman of Palmetto, FL celebrated her 100th birthday last weekend with 100 guests, many of them members of her family. She and her husband, Hollis, had a son and a daughter, aned she had four brothers, Walter, Earl, Charlie and Paul. Descendants of her siblings were also present. Beverly, Monteen's daughter, sent me photos taken during the party. Walter and Paul have passed away, but Earl and Charlie Council were able to attend this occasion.

Earl, Monteen, laughing, and Earl's wife, Nadine