Friday, March 10, 2017

IT'S BEEN AN EDUCATION

     For those of you who know me, you're aware that my husband had a complicated and involved laminectomy and fusion of his lower back on January 9th of this new year.  You also know that I haven't posted to this blog in almost a month.  That's been due to the change in our household, that is, my new role as "chief cook and bottle washer."  But, of course, that's a light-hearted way of describing my new and exclusive role as caregiver and cleaning lady and shopper and chef...and the list goes on.  But, as they say, pay back's a b----.  By that I mean, I've had my share and then some of surgeries in our 15 years of marriage and, to say the least, it was my turn.  I confided in many of you my concern with being able to do what I knew I would be the case, and the situation was as I expected.
     He's making progress daily and has begun "helping" with anything that he's able to do but we're a long way from normal.  He is determined, motivated and dedicated to everything that his doctor and physical therapist has laid out and if anyone's going to have a favorable outcome, my husband's the one.  I'm very proud of him and all he's done and continues to do to aid in his healing.  With God's help, I'm convinced he will finally get the result he's hoped for.
     I guess this is my way of explaining why my posts have been few and far between but tonight's an exception.  I felt I had to write a poem about the past two months (it was 2 months yesterday) and give a poetic accounting of it all.

THE REALIZATION
By Patty Lynn

I knew he did a lot to help, a lot to keep things running,
A husband who is rare, indeed, his contributions stunning.
For I was blessed, I knew I was, and never took for granted
The rarity I had at home, some couldn’t understand it.

My husband there along with me, we kept the household going,
But he did things apart from me, without my even knowing.
The garbage magically was gone, a new bag in its place.
Recyclables were emptied, too, it’s like they were erased.

From vacuuming to clean-up, the deal we figured out…
Was I would cook, but clean-up was what he was all about.
And that’s the way we handled things, each one would do his part;
Yes, each of us performed our tasks, each doing it with heart.

And then his surgery took place in early January.
I thought that I prepared myself but truth be told was wary…
Of how it all would be for me, if I could just plain do it,
The things I do and all of his, I couldn’t just refuse it.

And so the morning after he had had the operation,
The things I could, I did ahead, again had admiration…
For all the things he used to do but now they fell to me.
With every task the truth was clear, I certainly could see…

That I depended on his help in everything each day.
I prayed that I could take it on, that God would find a way…
To give me strength to do the job, to maximize my part,
To care for him and do what needed doing from the start.

Now two months past, he’s healing well, and trying to contribute.
Improvement, though it’s slow, he’d say, his progress has continued…
To show he’s better every day, his confidence is showing.
There’s something to be said for that, and how he feels in knowing…

That this was what he had to do, so many things were tried.
They worked but only for a while, the long-term was denied.
Unless a change in structure and relief of nerves so pinched,
The final judgement’s yet to be, but he was so convinced…

That this was it, the only way, so now what’s left is this:
Determination, exercise, and a man who never quits! 
Each day I see that he will do whatever is required. 
That's why it is that I believe he'll get what he desires.                                                   


Saturday, February 18, 2017

AL JARREAU'S PASSING

TWO PEOPLE IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME

This past week saw the unfortunate passing of Jazz great, Al Jarreau, just a few days after he had announced his retirement.   Situations like these are always sad, particularly when we associate anyone’s foray into retirement as a long awaited time of relaxation and freedom. 

There certainly have been a lot celebrities that have died lately some have hit us harder than others, usually because we associated them with a memory they had a part in, a movie, song, even a phrase that stuck with us, etc.  But when Al Jarreau death was made public recently, it hit me harder than just another celebrity’s death.

This event brought back memories of my seventeenth year when as I had just graduated from high school and told myself that what I really wanted to do with my life was to try my hand at becoming a professional singer. I knew my chances were slim but I told myself that if I never tried, I would always regret it. So, knowing that the first step was getting a demo made, I looked through the telephone book (some of you know what that is) to find a recording studio, find out the costs and someone willing to help me make it.

Now, I’m sure I made a number of calls that day but that part’s a bit hazy. What I do remember is making a call to the Dave Kennedy Recording Studio and actually speaking to Dave himself.  I explained my situation to him and found him to be open and willing to make my request a reality.  I did tell him that I didn’t want to waste his time or my money if I didn’t have “what it takes.” Dave understood where I was coming from and offered a way for him to give me an objective opinion of my talent prior to jumping in head first to the time and expense to make a demo.

Much to my surprise, he told me that his group had a gig that evening at the Y and said if I wanted to sing a couple of numbers with the band, he’d give me his honest opinion as to whether the expense of making a demo was worth my while.  I remember being blown away that even though he didn’t know me, he was willing to let me sing with his group but knew it was an important step in determining whether or not to move forward.

You’d think I would have been nervous that night, a man and group I knew nothing about and singing a song or two with them, but I remember not being worried at all.  After they were done with their set, Dave gave me his stamp of approval and laid out how he could bring the cost down for me.  He told me that if I had to hire studio musicians and pay an hourly fee to rent the studio, it would be “big bucks” and given that I was a recent high school graduate, he knew I would have a difficult time footing the bill for such endeavor.

His solution was to use something called “Music minus One,” in essence a record that had a full-orchestra accompaniment minus the voice.  He explained that we could go in the studio and the orchestra accompaniment would be playing in a set of headphones and I could add my voice which he would record.  That was a great idea and one I whole-heartedly went for.  I’d have a full orchestral sound with minimal cost, something that I could readily handle financially.

 A few days later, after hours and hours of practice, I went into the studio and recorded one ballad and two up-tempo numbers.  He also provided me with a list of Recording Companies so that I could start submitting my demos as soon as they were made.  I was beside myself when Dave called a few weeks later to tell me my demos were finished and I made an appointment to come to the studio to pick them up.  We sat down in his office and he explained that demos were not like regular records, they weren’t made to play more than a couple times.  If they were, the quality would suffer as the grooves would widen with each playing.

During our meeting, Dave was called away unexpectedly but he said he’d be right back.
It was maybe 10 to 15 minutes later when he returned obviously upset with what had just transpired and I asked him what had happened.  It was then he said he was kicking himself because he had arranged for a talent agent to come to his studio to hear a young Milwaukee singer who he felt had exceptional talent, someone Dave had told the agent he needed to hear.  The audition with this record company’s talent agent was all set to begin when Dave told the agent, “Wait till you hear him.  He’s another Johnny Mathis!”  That’s when the agent said, “I don’t want to hear anybody who’s like someone else.  I’m looking for someone whose talent is unique!”  The young man wasn’t even given the chance to sing because of what Dave had said.

I‘m not sure if I asked what the young man’s name was or whether Dave volunteered it, but the young man’s name was Al Jarreau.  For many years I would periodically think of him and wonder what became of him, whether or not he pursued a singing career or not or if that time in Dave’s studio was the end of his career.  Then one day in the 80’s I read that a guy named Al Jarreau had recorded the theme song for a new TV show called Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.  I loved that show and in learning that Al Jarreau did the theme song I felt, in some small way, that I knew him.  Silly, I know, since we had ultimately only been in the same place at the same time but never met.  In the years that followed, his name and records came up occasionally but as he was primarily a jazz personality, I didn’t hear him often.

So that’s my Al Jarreau story.  Still, a death is always sad and his life was cut short.  He was only 76, four years older than I’ll be this year and that always hits me hard because I feel like I’ve got so many years ahead and things I want to do. 

That’s probably what he thought.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

POETIC JUSTICE????

Tonight's blog is not a poem but it is about a poem, or more precisely two poems.  My daughter heard about the Appleton Sidewalk Poetry Contest and it sounded very interesting to me.  This contest encourages residents to compose a poem meeting certain requirements that would be type-set and every time a sidewalk needed replacement, the poem or poems chosen would be stamped into the sidewalk.  I was intrigued and decided to participate.

Requirements were that it be appropriate for all ages, have no more that 40 characters per line, be no longer that 10 lines and have a maximum of 250 words.  Sounds easy, right.  Well, it really wasn't. Staying within those parameters became more and more difficult but I went back and forth to the poem I wished to use, tweaked it over and over, seeing it as a challenge, something I wouldn't let beat me.  So after numerous changes and rewrites, I finally was ready to send it on, which I did this past Tuesday.

When there was a reply in my email the very next day, I was encouraged that my poem elicited a response and one that appeared so quickly.  But that's where the encouragement ended.  I was told that the contest participants must be Appleton residents and since I live in the Town of Grand Chute, I was not considered an Appleton resident and therefore ineligible to participate in the Sidewalk Poetry Contest.  Wow!! That was the last thing I expected.

I do live in the Town of Grand Chute but my address is a City of Appleton address and I live in Outagamie County.  But rules are rules, I guess, so that's it.  I would like to suggest a similar idea of a Sidewalk Poetry Contest to the powers that be in the Town of Grand Chute.  Perhaps they will see that it has merit.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

AN IMAGINATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Unlike my other blog posts, this one has made me unsure as to whether or not to actually post this to my blog. The reason... this poem is just my opinion and I know many don’t share it.  I also know that our new President has only been in office a few days and we’ll have to see what happens in the days to come. 
So, that being said, I hope those who don’t share my opinion will read this one, if only for its poetic value.  This was written before the inauguration and echoes the opinion of many people.  If nothing else, this may give you an idea of how those who opposed Trump are feeling.  Please keep an open mind.  This may not be your perspective but it is another viewpoint.

THE NIGHTMARE
By Patty Lynn

Please, wake me up, I’m dreaming, I’m having a bad dream,
Or better put, a nightmare and, O, how real it seemed.
The whole thing really bothered me, I’ll tell you what I dreamt,
It surely was upsetting, for hours I have spent…

Imagining this billionaire, an ego maniac,
A guy who cheated, lied and stole, for sure no Brainiac,
This guy, he was elected to be our President.
He’d never held an office, yet he would represent…

Our country and its people, would run the whole shebang.
I knew that couldn’t happen, and yet I felt a pang…
Of such regret and worry that this catastrophe…
Was something of my doing, the guilt belonged to me.

Oh, thank you, I’m awake now and happy it's not real.
While I was dreaming I was scared, now so relieved I feel…
That such a weird and awful thing, it hasn’t taken place.
My body felt the ill effects, you should have seen my face!

What’s that, you say it happened, that is the way it is?
This guy has been elected, our country’s really his…
To run and govern solely, a guy who’s life has been
One deal after another, who could have chosen him…

To be our nation’s president, a man we look up to,
This selfish, multi-billionaire, this really can’t be true!
And here I thought I dreamt it, my nightmare, it was real?
I’m really flabbergasted, I don’t know how to feel,

I guess I’ll have to wrap my mind around this revelation,
Though simply just the thought of it brings total devastation!
You’re telling me the voting showed he carried the majority?
How could this man, this charlatan, have all of this authority?

I know, I know, it’s over now, no need to hash it out,
And yet I’m filled with so much rage, I wish that I could shout,
“It isn’t true, it’s just a dream, a nightmare, that’s for sure.”
I pray that God will help us all and He’ll provide the cure.

Friday, January 13, 2017

THE SHOE'S ON THE OTHER FOOT

On Monday, January 9th, my husband, Frank, had a very complex and delicate back surgery, the first really, big surgery he's had since we've been married.  And let me say, it was horrible, horrible for him because of the complexity and the pain of it and horrible for me as the loved one, watching and waiting.  Frank's done it so many times with me as the patient but aside from some small surgical procedures he's had, this is the first time he was the patient.  As you might have guessed, I would much rather be the patient.  So tonight's offering puts it all in perspective.

THE OTHER SIDE
By Patty Lynn

I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot, if truth be told,
From feet to knees to back and more, and, yes, I’m getting old.
But through it all my husband, Frank, has really had to deal,
But this time I have learned, first hand, exactly how that feels.

Yes, this time it was my turn, to worry and to wait,
To watch the clock and wonder what would really be his fate,
To while away the hours and, in truth, it would take four,
Then on to the recovery room, that took an hour more.

When finally he was in a room and I could see his face
The time that I spent wondering & worrying were erased.
Though loopy and not quite himself, it really didn’t matter,
I heard the doc say, “it went well,” the rest was idle chatter.

Soon I would have to go back home without him, as we planned,
But even so, the emptiness was more than I could stand.
I worried ‘bout the hospital, what his night had in store
But I was sound asleep as soon my feet left the floor.

The next day came and I prepared to go & see, my Frank,
But just before I left he called, I thought it was a prank,
Because he said he’d been discharged and I could take him home.
The next day after surgery, did I hear right on the phone?

But, sure enough, he could go home, his pain, it was controlled,
Though what they should’ve told us was, that more pain would unfold.
The next day & the next would prove to be a bit more painful,
And dealing with the aftermath was in a word, DISDAINFUL!

He called the doctor’s office, said what his pain was like,
We were surprised when we were told “Adjustment to the height.”
What did they mean, what could it be, that’s when we said, “Say, what?
With spacers in he’s taller now, the change, why it’s clear-cut.
  
His body is adjusting now to being one inch taller
Without the discs, which we replaced, he used to be much smaller.”
Well, that had never been discussed but, boy, it sure made sense.
We understood the logic, explained why muscles tense.

So here we are, we’re dealing now and know it will be painful,
But with more walking ‘round the house the spine will be more stable.
And consequently, he will gain the loss of his mobility.
He’ll move again without the pain, regain his flexibility.

That’s “down the road” but that’s the goal, there’s healing to be done.
We’ll persevere and pray a lot, the battle's far from won.
We knew this road would be hard-fought, and, yes, it truly is,
But with God’s help he knows he can, the victory will be his.

The shoe is on the other foot, my husband is the patient
And I confess, I’d rather have the usual situation.
But that’s because I’ve had the very best of caretaker,
So I’m content to be nurse while Frank is the partaker.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

THE RED KETTLE BRIGADE


On December 23rd my grandchildren, Gavin and Ian and I, served as Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringers.  I’m sure they didn’t know what to expect, nor did I, but we got right into it, donning our Santa hats and ringing our bells.  We were at Woodman’s stationed between the doors at the liquor department entrance and I’ve got to say the flow of customers was continuous for the two hours we were there. No comment from me on the need for alcohol at the holidays.

But ready we were to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and let them know that
WE energies were matching all their donations. That was an added incentive to give.  And give they did, happily and generously.  We were amazed to see some folks put in twenties and fifties! But how much was given made no difference to us, we were just content to share a Christmas greeting and watch the faces of people who often shared the same in return.  Ian & Gavin kept saying how much fun it was & I concurred.  What’s more they had the feeling of satisfaction from doing something for the community.  Looks like next year we’ll be joining the Red Kettle brigade again!

A DOSE OF CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
By Patty Lynn

Tonight was such a special night, so much more than we thought.
We rang our bells encouraging the passersby we caught…
To share a gift, just what they could, from bills to their loose change.
It didn’t matter the amount, or what the pail contained,

What mattered was the joy we felt with every Christmas greeting.
For folks who came in there to shop, and unexpected meeting.
When they looked up and smiled, too, and shared a “Merry Christmas,”
It filled us up, that short exchange, so glad we hadn’t missed this.

We wore our festive Santa hats, we surely looked the part.
Three troubadours who saw their Christmas spirit get its start.
And I would bet our greetings gave the patrons what we had,
The reason for the season, and that sure can’t be bad.

So, all in all, we may have given hours to our community,
But we got more than what we gave with this fun opportunity.
We all agreed we want to ring those bells again next year.
It made our season just to share a bit of Christmas cheer.