Poetry in Memorandum

Today I want to again post a poem: one which I composed yesterday. But its roots go deeper than the memory of this horrid day in 2001–it embraces the life experiences of us all. Each of us has taken part in experiences, both good and bad, which have shaped our individual lives and set us apart as unique.

When in New Jersey recently, my cousin and friend, Steve St. Clair, took me on a special journey into Manhattan, and specified that he wanted to first show me the 9-11 Memorial first. Many thanks, Steve! This poem is dedicated to you! It will also appear in my future poetry book, I Walked My Dog This Morning.

I’VE BEEN THERE

 

I’ve trampled old bricks; the Forbidden City

And ambled up China’s Great Wall.

I’ve forged to the summit of grim Kilauea

And basked in the mist; Yelapa’s quaint fall.

 

I’ve roamed the mystical ruins of Mayans;

And dined with dignity; Halifax coast.

I’ve pounded the pavement in Lower Manhattan,

But mused at Ground Zero the most.

 

I’ve savored the chicory at Café du Monde

And ogled the dives on Bourbon Street;

I’ve chauffeured a coupe through Charlotte Amalie,

And trudged endless miles of soft golden wheat.

 

I met Jimmy Carter and Jimmy Doolittle,

Made friends with both nobles and peasants.

The rays of the sun have fallen around me

Upon the great shrines and the deserts.

 

The White House before me, the West to my right,

I’ve lifted my heart in great praise,

Remembering Old Faithful blubbering heavenward,

My love for creation ablaze.

 

9-10-14

Remembering 9-11

Attitude Determines Altitude

The events of the past six weeks have been trying and challenging, to say the least. After the tragic loss of my younger son, Rhonda and I got away for a much needed hiatus to the North, visiting spots we had both dreamed of seeing. That was a great break.

But after returning I underwent rotator cuff surgery which was also very needed.  Of course, this has been painful both physically and emotionally for such an active person as I. My right arm is in a sling, it hurts to move it much, and I am mainly restricted to doing everything normally accomplished with either my right hand or both, including typing, with only the left one.

But for the most part, I have managed swimmingly! I told Rhonda this morning that I was getting so used to using my left hand that I hardly recognized the inconvenience.

It helps that I learned long ago that it’s not what happens to us that determines our successes and happiness but the way we react to what happens.

I’ve failed many times at tasks I tried to do. I just tried again. I’ve hurt so badly that I wondered when I could ever feel well. Everything passes; there is always sunshine after rain.

So when I encounter folks complaining about the cards which life has dealt them, I’m tempted to say, “Go fish!” There are a lot more fish to be caught that can fill your belly with good taste.

In the meantime, buy a book from a St. Clair Publications author, or online. We have some of the greatest ones there are!

Exploring Our Exciting World

Even before we felt the great need to get away because of personal tragedy, we had planned the trip we took as an information-gathering venture for the upcoming book series ‘Exploring Our Exciting World,’ the first volume of which is scheduled to be released before Christmas this year.

Due to my surgery this week, I will not be able to complete the series of blog entries I had hoped for at this time regarding our trip, but I will do an overview today.

First we drove to Lynchburg, Virginia, experiencing a steady rain after crossing into the Blue Ridge area in the Southwest portion of the state, and visited the Old City Cemetery, which had been recommended by a friend. We really enjoyed it, as it was filled with history and particularly that of the Civil War in the area. From there we traveled to Liberty University, the largest private college in the Southeast. Both will be featured in the book.

We journeyed on to Appomattox and Appomattox Court House, being able to view and photograph the very desk at which General Lee signed his surrender to Grant, and the Museum of the Confederacy.

The next day was spent at Colonial Jamestown and Williamsburg on the James River near the Chesapeake Bay. In Jamestown we toured the Archaeological Museum in which were the bones which are believed to be those of my distant relative, Bartholomew Gosnold, who captained the ship Godspead and was among the founders of Jamestown. After Rhonda took my picture with the bones, I found out that photos were forbidden.(Woops!)

Onward we drove the next day to the Stonewall Jackson Memorial, near Fredericksburg, and photographed the bed on which he died.

Then we went to just south of Alexandria where we would stay for two nights. That day we toured Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington on the banks of the Potomac. There were many amazing photos and facts gained there. We purchased some mementos and gifts here as I had in Jamestown.

On the road we passed many other delightful attractions.

The grand adventure for us both occurred the next day when we toured the Washington, DC area on a tour bus. Our guide was fantastic, and we visited such sites as the Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery (Kennedy’s Grave and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), the White House, Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, World War II, Iwo Jima and Vietnam Memorials, the FDR and King Memorials, and more. We also saw many other buildings and shrines from the bus. I can’t say enough, as I don’t have space or time now.

Then we drove through Maryland and Delaware and hit the New Jersey Turnpike to Newark, NJ. We spent two nights there, and I called my cousin, Steve St. Clair, who took me into Manhattan for an evening on the Big Apple. We first drove to Hackensak where he showed me the line up at Carlo’s Bake Shop for that night’s taping of the reality show Cake Boss.

We had dinner in the borough of West Village at a Middle Eastern restaurant which was wonderful

We visited the 9-11 Memorial and the new One World Trade Center. We also went to Wall Street, Freedom Hall where George Washington was inaugurated, two historic churches, Grand Central Station, Central Park and Times Square at night.

The next day was my birthday, and we celebrated by a day alone in the Airport Hilton where we were staying, dining that evening in the lounge.

The next day we headed toward home, and went through Pennsylvania and West Virginia, then back through Virginia’s placid Shenandoah Valley. The trip was very enjoyable and we took hundreds of photos, a number of which will be in the first volume, Exploring Our Exciting World, Book One, The Greater Southeastern United States and Our Nation’s Capitol.

Look for it in November online at stclairpublications.com or on Amazon!

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Hope in Tragedy – Poetry for Reflection

In my dogged determination to remain positive I have allowed three weeks minus one day to elapse since the tragic loss of my youngest son. During this time Rhonda and I went on a historic tour of Virginia and Washington, D.C. and I met with my cousin, Steve, for a jaunt into Manhattan.

Before the trip, while waiting for my daughters to arrive from Ohio, I wrote the following poem:

HOPE

It’s not the best and not the worst

But wavering in between.

Crayola candles blue and yellow

Melting into green.

The wick is flickering in a lamp;

A beam drifts through the fog.

Then plunging onward into darkness

Daggers pierce the bog.

Soft raindrops splash into a keg

Beneath a mangled oak

Then bravely peeping through a cloud

Faint light the fetters broke.

This verse will be in my forthcoming poetry book, I Walked my Dog This Morning. More on the trip later.

 

 

If you want to get something done, ask a busy person

I have often heard that people who are not busy already won’t likely take on a new project. I have taken on so many that I sometimes have to say “No” now.

However, because I stay so busy I do get a lot accomplished. It’s kinda like the medication commercial which says “A body in motion tends to stay in motion.”

I have been terribly rushed lately trying to get everything accomplished that I need to before vacation. But, I still joined a new group on Linked-In today called Books and Writers. I find it really interesting, though I won’t be able to devote as much time to it as I would like. When I get responses to my posts, I will try to check them out.

In the meantime I am remaining very busy!

Check out our books at http://stclairpublications.com .

Does everything happen for a reason?

Last weekend Rhonda and I went to North Carolina for a much anticipated High School Graduation Class Reunion. We arrived at our reserved motel on Friday evening, and I settled in with a book of the county history from the motel office. As I gazed at it, my eyes suddenly began to cross and I was seeing double. I started to rise and felt dizzy. I lay down, thinking the problem would soon go away. I had had short episodes with this in the past.

Soon I felt some better and decided that a good night’s sleep was all I needed. At 4:00 AM I awakened to find that the symptoms had intensified. I asked Rhonda to drive me to the ER of the local hospital. Once there, they began immediately to treat me for vertigo. The nurse assured me I would be well and on my way to the reunion that evening. Not so. After hours of failing to improve and even after IVs with more meds, they decided they wanted an MRI, but had no tech on duty, so they called the larger city, Asheville, for permission to transport me there. Rhonda followed the speeding ambulance, almost losing them at times.

Late that evening they told me the MRI was normal, and that some cases of inner ear problems are slower to go away. I had not been able to eat all day, and finally at about 8:00 they brought me a box lunch. At 9:00 I was dismissed, as my symptoms were improving. So much for my reunion. Rhonda had been in touch by phone with one of my classmates who relayed my situation to the class. I had been scheduled to speak, and one of my books was given by our class president as a door prize.

I was really surprised by the outpouring of well wishes I have received over the past week. One of my best friends in elementary school called and told me of the rush of memories he had felt while reading Beyond the Thistle Patch, my book of childhood memoirs which I had dedicated to our class. We talked for quite some time. Several called, while others emailed. One, female classmate who is now a doctor, sent a card signed members of the church she attends.

“That must be why that happened,” Rhonda told me yesterday. “It brought you closer to some of your classmates than if you had been there.”

I don’t know about that diagnosis, but it may be right. I might not have realized how much some cared. It’s just good to see that after 50 years, the bonds still hold.

Meanwhile check out stclairpublications.com or see our books on Amazon.

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger

One of the cliches in my popular book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions is “Busier than a one-armed paper hanger. The entry reads like this:

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger

This humorous analogy has been in common use in the U.S. since at least the early twentieth century. Sometimes it is expanded to say, ‘with hives’ or ‘on a windy day.’ The meaning is clear, too busy for one’s own good. Despite the fact that someone who writes useless checks is also known as a ‘paper hanger,’ this applies to the obvious—hanging wallpaper—a task which requires both hands to perform properly.

An early example is found in St. Nicholas, an illustrated magazine for boys and girls, Volume 45, Part 2 by Mary Maples Dodge, in a section called Daddy Pat’s Letters from the Front, 1919:

“Daddy has been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger, and it has been awful hard to find time to write.” 

Well, as of late it seems that I have been about that busy, and unable to “get my head together” to do regular entries.

I am currently working on three books from three different authors and expecting more. Add to that other obligations what is coming up like a class reunion in North Carolina, and vacation and research in New England for the book series, Exploring Our Exciting World, well…this is going to get worse. Then I will be having surgery and be incapacitated for several weeks. Oh well, that’s life, and I enjoy mine immensely.

In the meantime, visit our website at http://stclairpublications.com and order a great book. You can also find them at all Amazon sites around the world, or order them from your favorite book retailer.

My best to all!.

 

RC Cola and a Moon Pie

In the South, an RC Cola and a Moon Pie have traditionally gone together like a sausage and biscuit. Every year about this time, in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, a typical old Southern village in Bedford County, throws what they call the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival. Today it’s happening with a parade at 11:00 and a lot of vendors with everything from crafts to art and music. And our governor, Bill Haslam is attending. There’s a Saturday live radio show in the family style Bell Buckle Cafe. But the temps are in the 90s and there is always a crowd in the thousands.

I love Bell Buckle, and we go at least once or twice every summer just to shop the quaint craft and antique shops and grab a tasty meal and possibly an ice cream.  I’ve also been known to go for a Moon Pie and an RC Cola on occasions.

My upcoming book will be the first in a long series of volumes scheduled to be released titled Exploring Our Exciting World. This one will be about the Southeast US, and Bell Buckle will be just one in a bushel basket full of fine locations to visit. These books will be unique in that they feature best attractions to visit in each area including festivals, sports events, National and State Parks, Historic Landmarks, and Amusement Parks plus Institutions of Higher Learning. But another unusual feature will be that a lot of it will be from personal experience, and each book will have contributions from others. The first book is scheduled for release in October, 2014. 

For other great books see stclairpublications.com.

Father’s Day and Bonnaroo

Yesterday was one of my favorite days…being a proud father, and all. I got taken out to lunch and given a beautiful card by my lovely wife; I received five phone calls, one text and two facebook messages from family and a number of ‘Happy Father’s Day’ wishes from friends.

My oldest son, who lives in Colorado, talked to me at length and told me about his adventuresome day of ‘firsts’. He went mountain bike riding, went to see a 3-D movie, and saw the new Corvette Stingrays, Of course he heard from his kids, too.

This morning, just down the road from here, tens of thousands are exiting Bonnaroo.  This year it featured such entertainers an Lionel Richie, Elton John and Kanye  West, who brought along his new bride, Kim Kardashian. Our local newspaper had an article with the heading Kanye West brings sharp tongue to Bonnaroo. I don’t know about that, because I was too busy doing family things and stuff that I felt counted for something.

Now another week of doing what I love: making sure that the public has the best possible new books to read and study. For more ‘good stuff’ see http://stclairpublications.com.   

Weekend of non-stop entertainment

This has been, and continues to be, one of the most entertainment-filled weekends that the music, sports and acting-loving public could ever expect.

Locally, here in Middle Tennessee, while thousands prepare for Bonnaroo, the four-day camping music festival on the 700 acre farm down the road just a few miles from my home, featuring some of the top names in pop and rock in the world,  CMA Fest and Fanfare in nearby Nashville with the superstars of ever popular country music is in full swing.

Then in New York, yesterday evening, the running of the Belmont Stakes, which, to the disappointment of millions (especially those who had $9 million bet on California Chrome), failed again to produce a triple-crown winner. His owners are steaming because of the ‘unfair’ standards with ‘fresh horses’ competing. (I was on the edge of my seat during this one)

For days the French Open Tennis match has been running full speed, and there were the Finals for the Stanley Cup in tennis, and two major auto races revving up today, plus the NBA Playoffs between Miami and San Antonio.

In addition to all of that. we have the Miss U.S.A. competition tonight at the Bayou in Baton Rouge and the Tony Awards live from Radio City Music Hall in NYC.

Whew! I’m out of breath thinking about it all.

After it’s all over, it will be time to order a good St. Clair Publications book from http://stclairpublications.com or off of Amazon and relax by the pool or in your favorite easy chair. There are several good ones which won’t put you to sleep, but will still keep you entertained. Our motto is “Small enough to listen to the author, large enough to reach the world!”