cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

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Grrs and Greats


Not that it’s a resolution, but I have come to the conclusion I have got to find a balance to my aggravating days and really great days. You know the routine:

“How’d your day go, dear?”

“Are you kidding? The stoplight skipped a cycle and I’m hanging out waiting for-ever, and when I finally get to the light it changes! That’s before I even got to work. I dropped my keys in a puddle, I forgot about a meeting, the boss came by for an unexpected chat and I was updating my blog, which was on my break, but his frown didn’t register that information…yada yada.”

It’s soooo easy to just grrumble.

Then again, I’m working on bettering my PollyAnna side of life, where all is rose petals and never a thorn.

I’ve decided to balance a great for every grripe.

Here is my ongoing Grrs and Greats list:

GRRS  and GREATS
GRR: food packages that require Herculean effort to pull apart
GREAT: handy “tear here” bags that seal with a zip

GRR: forgetful servers on a tight lunch break
GREAT: a server who remembers I like lemon with my water

GRR: unexpectedly meeting someone and drawing a blank for their name
GREAT: not only remembering the person’s name but remembering
pertinent details like their kid’s name and their college major

GRR: a book that has been on hold FoREveR, only to be a dud
GREAT: 
grabbing that last minute read while in the checkout line and it is FABulouS!

GRR: a DVD with only previews for the special features
GREAT:  
an entire dedicated disc of special features WITH a bloopers reel

GRR: forgetting to do the laundry-again which means the shirt I really wanted to wear is buried deep in the laundry hamper
GREAT:
finding all aspects of desired wardrobe essentials because I actually washed, dried, folded on Saturday.

GRR: the store drop-listed a favorite brand
GREAT:
it’s on the shelf again and on sale!

GRR: hanging out in waiting room limbo for more than a half hour
GREAT:
 wait time of ten minutes or at least new magazines to peruse

GRR: forgetting to pay a bill and getting punched with a hefty late fine
GREAT:
getting a refund for overpayment, or a rebate, or a gift for being such a valued customer

GRR: the school district decides to close school and it’s important test day
GREAT:the school district decides to close school and it’s important test day [a matter of perspective]

GRR: someone with 30 items in the 15 or fewer line
GREAT: the person who says, “Go ahead, you’ve only got a couple of things.”

GRR: getting gas and up the street it’s going for 20 cents less a gallon
GREAT: a full tank prior to a gas hike

GRR: saving up and buying that gotta have item only to find it on sale a week later
GREAT: finding that fabulous item on clearance, saving mungo bucks

GRR: the long dark days of winter
GREAT: hmm, I’m still trying to find something really great about the long days of winter

Balance is indeed important. And while I’m still working on figuring out how to embrace those tedious winter days, I’m hoping you have come up with a couple of GRRS and GREATS of your own. Eli of Coach Daddy originally posted this list as one of his guest spots, and since I’m still adding on my grrs and greats I felt it was a post repeating or is that a grr: posts that are reruns,  then again they could be grreats: that post was really terrific  to read even the second time around.

Feel free to share your own grr and grreat.

And for those who missed my usual POM slot (poem of the month–stay tuned, since next month is  National Poetry Month and I have a poem for every day of April!)

 

 

 

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Juggling a Couple of Goals


I have adopted June’s line from Knight and Day as my own: “She has skills.” I don’t have June’s skills for punching, shooting, and recklessly driving, although I’m not sure I actually want those skills. I am working on acquiring skills that might actually be more useful, you know, like juggling and playing the harmonica. Excuse me, was that a snicker in the back row?

Whilst in college I would earn extra summer money as a camp counselor. Great gigs, by the way–room and board paid for, new friends, all sorts of fun activities, and it’s a bonus that it’s working with kids. One year I signed up for counseling at the Marrowstone Music Festival, which is the music camp for very talented young musicians who hope to audition for a spot in the Seattle Youth Symphony, or are working on improving their virtuoso. At this camp were twin brothers and could they juggle. I think playing music was their second talent. In between music classes they gave demonstrations and workshops. I wholeheartedly jumped in line to learn how to juggle. After several attempts, they came to this conclusion: there are a few people in this world who are juggle-challenged and I am one of them. Disheartened, I did not give up and continued my desire to learn how to juggle.

We all know that wishes remain wishes unless action is attached.

About six years ago I purchased a beginner’s juggling set at Target (love their dollar section).

Mine are red, blue, and yellow

morguefile image: pennywise

On December 31st, yes of 2015, I finally got around to trying them out. It’s not easy getting over the label of being juggling challenged.

The book from the library was no real help, as pictures don’t really express the proper cadence and motion of keeping it all up in the air and forming patterns. It did, however,  have a fascinating section on the history of juggling:

  •  Juggling dates back 4,000 years
  • Greek art and Egyptian paintings show “juggers”
  • Beginning of the 19th century saw juggling being part of the entertainment circuit
  • One popular juggler, Enrico Rastelli, died in 1931 from a infected cut caused by his mouth stick, and thousands of people attended his funeral
  • W.C. Fields juggled early in his career, being known as the “Eccentric Tramp Juggler”
  • The Flying Karamzov Brothers, known as talented jugglers, sometimes toured with The Grateful Dead
  • Juggling now incorporates dance and a variety of props and techniques that has it elevated as a respectable art form

I’m still figuring out balls–rings?

morguefile image: sideshowmom

As of this post, I have yet to perfect my three ball cascade, but I do have my two ball catch fairly smooth. TIP of the Day: practice over a bed–less chasing of props…

POM: NOVEMBER


Ah, tis November. As much as I like that this month gets me a wee bit closer to the end of the year, which gets me that much closer to the end of first semester, which ushers in second semester, which provides a not-as-distant glimpse of June and summer release, I do like October and I am reluctant to let it totally fade away.

I like its blend of summery days of warmth and crisp evening. I appreciate the last hurrah of garden color mixed with swirling leaves. And I favor the bounteous moons that hover like bloated Chinese lanterns on the night’s horizon.

So, here is an October poem for November. How could I resist “spicy woods”? Yet, Amy Lowell does set the tone well for the Thanksgiving month with her “Hoar-Frost” offering:

In the cloud-grey mornings

I heard the herons flying;

And when I came into my garden,

My silken outer-garment

Trailed over withered leaves.

A dried leaf crumbles at a touch,

But I have seen many Autumns

With herons blowing like smoke

Across the sky.


October

Helen Hunt Jackson
Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.

Cricket’s Hamlet Adventure: Day Four–LOC, Death by Folger, and Abe


Waking up at 3 a.m. either means I am not adjusting well to the time difference or I am so excited about another day of Shakespeare I can’t wait to get going. It’s probably both. Today was especially exceptional. 

I did manage to go back to sleep after working on my lesson plan that is due on Friday, but I still woke up early. The problem is museums and such don’t open until 10 a.m. and Folgerizing begins at 9 a.m. I did manage to get 15 minutes of looky-looking at the Library of Congress. Here–ooh with me: 

outside entrance

  

ceiling

  

stairs leading up to gallery overlooking reading room

 
Amazing, eh? I applied for my reading card on-line and needed to pick it up. Unfortunately, that was at the Madison building across the street and I was now out of time. Nicholas Cage made it look way too easy popping into the LOC to check out

books during his National Treasure stint. I’m determined to spend more time there. I guess I’m foregoing lunch tomorrow at the corner bistro.

Other highlights of the day:

  • Handling rare books and diving into further Shakespeare research.
  • Practicing for our upcoming group scene–I dibbsed Horatio for Act Five, Scene Five. I have always appreciated Horatio’s quiet dedication to Hamlet.
  • Learning how to sword fight from a Shakespearan actor, and we were all filmed for an upcoming documentary highlighting the Folger Academy.
  • We then received lines and “died” on the Folger Library lawn.
  • I couldn’t end the day so easily, so I roused myself and trotted off to the Lincoln Memorial. I would probably still be walking if I hadn’t come across a DC bike rack. I rented the bike for the very reasonable amount of $8.00 for 24 hours and trekked down the path. At 9:30 at night it was teeming with tours, families, and people of all ages and walks of life. I can’t imagine what it must be like during the day. 

The Lincoln Memorial was a prime directive on my touristy checklist. When I finally got up the steps I got the wobbly little smile and that welling of tears that comes with being reunited with a dear friend. Abraham Lincoln’s memorial is beyond description. His presence is both comforting and mesmerizing. I wanted to hang out for awhile to absorb and reflect but energy, darkness, finding my way home all pressed upon me. Here are the pics: 

    
 
I did arrive back to the hotel safely, although a bit drenched with the effects of humidity. When it’s 84 degrees at 10 pm, you can imagine day temps are a bit overwhelming.

So this Hamlet quote is devoted to the DC Bike folk:

“For this relief much thanks.”

Cricket’s Hamlet Adventure: Day Two


After going to bed well after 11pm, drifting to dreamland to the continuing firecracker pops of Fourth of July celebrants and the  police sirens indicating aforementioned celebrants needed corralling, I realized my depth of tired from my very full first day. 

Second day

I slept in: 7:10 am. Jet lag, so far, proves no problem. 

Hmmm, whatever shall I do until 3 pm when I return to prepare for the welcome dinner? Since I’m walking, not being adventurous enough to attempt tour buses, taxis, or Metro buses, I fiddle with Google and determine the Smithsonian American History Museum is doable. I plug in Siri and her Google Maps expertise, and off I trot.

Forty minutes later I arrive with only five minutes until opening.

Highlights:

  • Third one in the door and I bee-line it to American Stories and gaze upon Dorothy’s Ruby Reds. 
  • I then promptly lose my school district’s iPad by leaving it on top of a display case. Great–fifteen minutes newly arrived as a tourist and visions of an angst filled day erupt. Prayer, and an angel of a docent, *shout out to Craig* my iPad and I am reunited via lost and found. The security man admonishs me to be “more careful” and I shall be.
  • Continuing on as a thankful and much more careful school teacher tourist, I return to discovering the Americana that reminds me how unique America is in its history. For instance, two favorite presidents as I’ve never seen them before:

The first statue of George Washington. They had gyms back then? Pretty impessive abs, GW.

  •    

Lincoln’s life mask. A bit macabre until realizing this was first cast when he was alive in 1860. Photographs are one thing, but this impression indelibly reveals a realism photographs can’t deliver. Moving through the Civil War exhibit I come across his last known photograph. I tear up. What a great man. What a great loss. I am emotional in each of the various military exhibits, reflecting upon family members who have served or plan to serve, and those, not just family, who have sacrificed for our country. Eyes and throat swelling with emotional realization of what sacrifice means, when I entered the Star-Spangled Banner exhibit, especially viewing the Ft. McHenry flag–yes, THE flag. 

Other highlights:

  • First Ladies inaugural gowns which both caught both the personality of the First Lady and a reflection of the time period.
  • A video of a nurse who had a reunion thirty-four years later with the Vietnamese baby girl rescued and was christened Kathleen. “They said we were killing babies during the war; here’s proof we saved them,” stated the nurse.
  •  DC is amazingly clean and everyone is so nice. From docents to other tourists, everyone is polite, friendly, and helpful. This teaches me to not believe in Bruce Willis’s Die Hard movies. DC does not stand for downright corrupt. It’s clean and nice, at least in my encounters so far.
  • I briefly stopped in the National Art Gallery. The beauty of exquisite masterpieces rendered me speechless at moments. Being inches from a Rembrandt reminds me how beautiful is the creativity of the human soul. 

    one of the many paintings that I beheld

     

After a much needed nap, I readied to meet my Hamlet Homies. We pizza-ed, we chatted, and we were briefed on our itinerary. We shall be Hamletting from 8am to 9pm Monday through Friday. This is the reason I’m here. “This isn’t the beach,” the director gently admonished us. “There are sixty other people who would love to be where you are.” Gulp. The pins she handed out carry a new meaning: 


To be or not to be committed to giving up my personal agenda of wanting to be a DC tourist (at least more than one day) and instead immerse myself in my Shakesperean scholar potential. 

We will see what Will holds in store for me. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…

 

    Cricket’s Great Hamlet Adventure:Day One


    The day was certainly full:

    • Up at 3 am to catch a 6 am
    • Fly over at least 3 time zones
    • Learn quickly how to ride the MARC from Baltimore to DC
    • Figure out my hotel from Union Station
    • Where to eat dinner? Back to Union Station because the pub next dinner is not on my budget
    • Move with the masses to the Mall for fireworks–crowds are not my fave, but Fourth of July at the nation’s capitol? I got over myself and blended, absorbed, dodged, and weaved.
    • I claimed a spot and waited.
    • There were so many cultures represented I felt I was at an outdoor Ikea festival (okay, my odd personal reference since whenever I go to an Ikea it’s like a UN day, either that or my smalltown bubbling is showing)
    • The big moment:  

    NOTE: our smalltown event lasts about 10 minutes consisting of very dramatically spaced singular shots. I was indeed properly dazzled by this pyrotechnic dazzlement. 

    • And then my approximate 19 minutes back to the hotel turn into an hour long “lost, yet flowing with the masses walking tour of DC at 10 o’clock at night”–it would have been scary except for there being two cops for every second block. Locals were very friendly and helpful in redirecting me. At one point after asking directions once again (I forgot to turn on my precise location indicator on my Google Maps–now corrected) a nice young woman caught up to me on the sidewalk and sincerely cautioned me about steering clear of the sketchy 8th street area. And I thought DC would be harsh and sense my smalltown girl and chomp me up. Everyone, especially the police, have been very nice.

    DAY TWO: squeezing in Dorothy’s shoes before dinner

      Of Hamlet, Conundrums, Cost Factors–oh my


      I have decided that now and then it’s important to dip into the retirement fund to fully appreciate opportunities I may not be up for when I do finally retire. When the opportunity came up to apply for the first ever Folger Shakespeare Library Summer Workshop, I swiftly wrote up my reasons why I should be among the coveted twenty-five teachers who will get to study Hamlet. I don’t know if Midsummer Nights Dream or even King Lear would have caused me to leap without much looking. I don’t even recall what I wrote, I was in such an unmitigated hurry to apply.

      Whatever I wrote worked for them.  Come July I’m heading out to Washington DC to learn how to teach Hamlet to my students. Even though it’s costing me about a month’s salary (tuition, airfare, hotel–ooh, I have to eat, forgot about that) my hubs and family and friends convinced me to commit by saying: “Just go already.” They’re right. I would be full of regrets at having turned down the opportunity just because I like to save money instead of spend it. ‘Tis better to be filled with memories than regrets. Shakespeare didn’t write that, but I’m sure he thought along those lines when he trekked off to London for the theater.

      I will keep you all informed as I get closer to the event.  I think I’m getting excited–reality emails are arriving about getting prepared for the big trip. 

      1. I must supply a recommendation letter in order to secure my Reading Room pass. My local library card will not be sufficient. This puts studying Shakespeare into a totally different realization of *special event*.

      One thing I’ve noticed as July gets closer and my departure date, I’m more enthused about seeing Washington DC in movies we watch–“Hey, don’t blow up the White House! It’s on my tourista list.” Or a poke to the hubs “I’m gonna get a photo with Abe. I’ll give my regards.” The MEPA is an excellent fellow allowing me to gloat like this.

      I’ve only dipped my toe back East briefly when I attended a Chautauqua workshop back in 2008. Is the east coast still muggy in summer? My part of the planet sports dry  and hot summer fun. Humidifiers and air conditioners are standard issue. 

      As for tripworthy goals and accomplishments: I’m hoping Jude Law will stop by. Makes sense doesn’t it? He just did Hamlet on Broadway. I would settle for Patrick Stewart peeking in. David Tennant? I’m also hoping to dig in and get some amazing research done on a Shakespeare project I’ve been toying with the past five years. That Reading Pass will definitely come in handy. Of course, I really hope to bring back such astounding Hamlet lesson plans that they will transform my seniors into iambic spouting Bardinators.

      We interrupt this post with an important update:
      “participants should pack loose, comfortable clothing for stage work, including a workshop on swordplay.” SWORDS! 

      Being a West Coaster, I am so open to suggestions of what I should REALLY see when finding time to be a tourist in Washington DC.

      a bit about cricketmuse

      I intend to pack a bit more…

      NPM: #27–of imagery and such


      Amy Lowell doesn’t quite get the press like Emily Dickinson does, although Amy did receive a Pultizer for her work. Very much influenced by the Imagist Movement, Lowell, like Ezra Pound, captures the essence of a scene in only a few words.  So much is left unsaid, which is what makes this poem so complete.

      image: morguefile/rezdora70

      Poetry

      Amy Lowell, 18741925
      Over the shop where silk is sold
      Still the dragon kites are flying.

      NPM: #25–the Poe in poetry


      Most of Poe is a favorite. I don’t care for the macabre aspect, the chop-him-up-cause-I-loved-him-so stuff. Makes me nervous walking across floorboards when he does that kind of writing. My students like Poe because they like the scary aspect of his writing, although they don’t always understand his diction, they get his intent of setting people offside with mixing real with horror. So, it is with surprise that I’ve come across a Poe poem that is actually upbeat. Which Poe are you most familiar with–the scary guy or the dreamer?

      Dreams

      Edgar Allan Poe, 18091849
      Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
      My spirit not awakening, till the beam
      Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
      Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
      ’Twere better than the cold reality
      Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
      And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
      A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
      But should it be—that dream eternally
      Continuing—as dreams have been to me
      In my young boyhood—should it thus be given,
      ’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
      For I have revell’d when the sun was bright
      I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light,
      And loveliness,—have left my very heart
      In climes of mine imagining, apart
      From mine own home, with beings that have been
      Of mine own thought—what more could I have seen?
      ’Twas once—and only once—and the wild hour
      From my remembrance shall not pass—some power
      Or spell had bound me—’twas the chilly wind
      Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
      Its image on my spirit—or the moon
      Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
      Too coldly—or the stars—howe’er it was
      That dream was as that night-wind—let it pass.
      I have been happy, tho’ [but] in a dream.
      I have been happy—and I love the theme:
      Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life
      As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
      Of semblance with reality which brings
      To the delirious eye, more lovely things
      Of Paradise and Love—and all our own!
      Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.
      Edgar Allan Poe

      Eddie, do you need a hug?

      image: Academy of American Poets

      NPM: #24: into the woods–the original?


      Although it’s been out for a bit now, the fairy tale musical extravanga Into the Woods takes on new meaning in James Weldon Johnson’s poem. Meryl Streep beckoning folks to find answers in the woods is a bit creepy for my tastes, especially since I favor the serenity felt in the woods. This is one reason I am so drawn to this particular rendering of the peace, the reverance found within the forest. Are the woodlands scary or a refuge for you?

      Deep in the Quiet Wood

      James Weldon Johnson, 18711928

      Are you bowed down in heart?
      Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
      Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
      Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
      From out the palpitating solitude
      Do you not catch, yet faint, elusive strains?
      They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
      Silently listen! Clear, and still more clear, they come.
      They bubble up in rippling notes, and swell in singing tones.
      Now let your soul run the whole gamut of the wondrous scale
      Until, responsive to the tonic chord,
      It touches the diapason of God’s grand cathedral organ,
      Filling earth for you with heavenly peace
      And holy harmonies.

      image: morguefile/modnar

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