Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One Hundred Percent

Today’s blog is my one hundredth, so I was thinking this morning about that marker. One hundred is only a number, but it’s one that seems to have significance in our world. Living to be one hundred, for example, certainly is a milestone and anyone who does so generally is celebrated as if there’s no tomorrow!
Most of us appreciate the fact that folks who “give one hundred percent” often are more apt to find success in a career, hobby, or sport than those who don’t; even it tremendous success is not met, the intrinsic value of understanding and appreciating that total effort stands for something, doesn’t it?
With that in mind, I’m sure we all can remember back in the old, school days that earning one hundred percent on an exam was cause for joy and a sense of accomplishment. Those sterling papers always took up space on the front of the refrigerator in my house!
These days, one hundred percent seems to have taken on new meaning. We always are looking it seems, for products that are one hundred percent pure, one hundred percent natural, or totally fresh. Aren’t items that claim to be one hundred percent guaranteed more desirable? I believe they are although in today’s world there’s always an element of chance there!
Finally then, a personal aspect applies to this auspicious number. “I’ll support you, I’m here for you one hundred percent,” or “Don’t worry, I’m behind you one hundred percent!” “You’ve got this, one hundred percent!” Too many variations to count exist in this vein.
            One hundred percent completes the circle, makes the whole. Is that why we value it so much?  When thinking about my blog, I wonder, “Should this be the end, the last? Does this one hundredth page conclude the cycle?” I have to consider the fact that quitting is the antithesis of giving one’s all. Right? Aw, tomorrow’s another day. Giving up is not in my nature, or maybe it’s time simply to start all over again.
100% perfect

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Predictability Or Lack Thereof

I woke up questioning predictability today. I don’t know why. I couldn’t have predicted it. It just happened, so I’m considering it.
*Take weather. This morning when I got up to feed my dogs, I heard a strange sound.  Raindrops were pelting the skylight! Two days ago I watched huge drops plop into our pool! It’s July! Rain this time of year is rare where I live, but we’re in a drought. I totally welcome it!
*Take sports. I’ve watched “my teams” lose for no good reason or manage an amazing victory. I tend to appreciate the latter more, of course, but it’s a crapshoot sometimes as to which will occur no matter how good the odds.
*Take news. I guess the only thing predictable these days is that we’ll hear a story about someone, or many people, being responsible for harming or killing others. I find it hard to understand and it makes me question the goodness of humanity.
*Take health. How is it that things can be going along so well for a friend, a family member, or an acquaintance until that moment he or she falls ill and is diagnosed with some God-awful disease? It happens all too often.
*Take moods. Some folks are able to dominate a room simply with their mood. Whether happy, sad, angry, or afraid, how is it that particular individuals are able to control an office space, a home, or even the line at the post office with their mood? And what about people whose moods can change instantly for no seemingly distinct reason? It throws me off.
*Take traffic. All right. In Sonoma County one can quite accurately predict that traffic will be horrible due to all the construction being done on the freeways. I would like to predict that this issue will improve in the future but I’m not sure.
*Take friends. I’m fortunate here. I have friends who always seem to come through. I suppose I do as well. It’s the mirror image.
*Take family. My family is very small but even so, they’ll surprise me sometimes. I’ve been disappointed from time to time, but that’s rare. I do enjoy the positives: a phone call just to check in, a bouquet of flowers, or a note that says, “I love you.”
*Take each day. With predictability the sun will rise in the morning and fall in the evening and for each day I am given, I am most thankful.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Dragging Out An Old Poem

Recently I was sorting through some old poems I had written and found this one. It drew me back to the years when I was teaching. Because of the nature of the poem, I could not help but recall the faces of several of my students who passed away much too young. Some died in car accidents or from insidious illnesses, there was a suicide or two, and then, there was this incident that prompted me to write a poem. David died just two weeks into the school year. He died from huffing, breathing in fumes from an aerosol paint can. It was a shock way back in 1992 and I remember the moment I found out as if it were yesterday.

I’m not sure students always understand what an impact they may have on their teachers. Fortunately I have many happy, joyful memories as well, but thought I’d share this poem on my blog today.

A Poem for David

You were quiet
in my class
for two weeks.
Yet your face
is etched
in my memory.

I remember you
on Monday,
standing,
head cocked aside,
a smile
catching my eye,
letting me know
that you were
alive and well,
well and ready
to make another person
a part of you
whether you knew it
or not.

Now,
for some reason,
a reason that
no one can answer,
I’ll never know
your secrets.

The assignment
had been given:
to display graphically
your role in society.
You did, and
you did not.
Your depiction,
not completed,
can only be conjured
in my mind now.

You walked into
my life, David,
for two short weeks,
until a secretive self,
quirkily, quietly,
slipped silently away,
a powerful, permanent
aftershock suffocating
my senses
for a lifetime.
                                                                                    Judith DeChesere 9/20/92




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mini Vacation

I returned Monday from Ashland, Oregon and the Shakespeare Festival there. I have traveled to Ashland every summer for over twenty years. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, a visitor can choose from a selection of Shakespearean or contemporary plays, take in the beautiful scenery of the Siskiyou Mountains that lie to the West of town, tour countless art and craft galleries, shop, hike, dine, and simply enjoy. Lovely Ashland Creek, with water bounding over huge boulders and languishing in deep pools, meanders through Lithia Park and the town itself. My husband and I walked the paths beside the stream, sharing the space with deer that are quite tame and plentiful. We ventured north one day to Grants Pass, an old community that likely was established in the gold rush days. Through the heart of the town rushes the wide, wild, and beautiful Rogue River, running from the Pacific Ocean far inland. Its banks are home to bald eagles, osprey, swallows, deer, beavers, bears, and myriad forest critters. Salmon and other fish are abundant, and the fishermen and boaters are eager. The place is incredibly beautiful. It was a lovely, peaceful few days, and now we’re home, safe and sound. It’s time to reflect and be satisfied.

Elizabethan Theater, Ashland Shakespeare Festival

Rogue River

Ashland Creek

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little Scene About Being Happy

            “How are you doing, Honey?”
            “I’m good. I’m feeling happy.”
            “Well, that’s a nice thing to hear. And why are you so happy today?”
            “I’m always happy, Mommy. I don’t know why. I just feel fresh and clean inside, like the wind just blew all the bad stuff out of me.”
            Dinah looked down at her daughter who was sitting on the edge of the porch staring past the sparse lawn to a thickly wooded area beyond. Though she was only ten years old, Sara already had developed a unique way of describing her world. She looked at her mother and grinned. Her lips held the smile, but her deep, blue eyes reflected her happiness as well. For Dinah the look dredged up an old demon, envy.
            “I don’t know how she does it,” Dinah mused. “We don’t have the best life.”
            The two lived alone in a small, rundown cabin at the edge of town.  Three years earlier Jake Williams, the man who had fathered Sara but refused to marry Dinah, had deserted them.
            “Not the marrying kind, Dinah,” he had told her bluntly with a truth that created tension in their relationship from the beginning. Fortunately no more children followed, for when Sara was only seven, Jake slipped out the front door in the early dawn carrying a duffle bag jammed full with his meager belongings and never returned.
            Dinah relied on her own tenacity then to keep herself and her daughter somewhat solvent, but the long hours spent waitressing at the Cinnamon CafĂ© had taken its toll. Though she was only thirty-four, she looked ten years older.
            “Are you happy, Mommy?” Sara asked.
            “Yes,” Dinah lied. “Sometimes.”
            “Not all the time?”
            “Just sometimes.”
            “Well, I like to be happy all the time,” Sara asserted.
            “And how do you do that?”
            “I don’t know. I just hold it in my heart. I say I am and just like magic it happens.”
            “You’re an enigma, Sara. Wish I could climb into your brain and reside there with you,” Dinah smiled into the beaming face of her daughter.
            “You can, Mommy. Just choose it.”