Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Is Memorial Day?

©2013 Susan Noyes Anderson

I came across a question yesterday
that troubled me enough to pose it here.
"What is the meaning of Memorial Day?
Why do we celebrate it every year?"

The answers were surprising to my mind.
"A day of memory," was one reply.
"We think about the good things in our lives
and raise a glass to happy days gone by."

Another wrote of barbecues and picnics.
"We throw a great big party," she explained.
"I bake a special cake: red, white, and blue.
It's yummy! Last year, not one piece remained."

"To visit cemeteries," someone countered.
"They used to call it 'Decoration Day.'
We decorate the graves of family members,
remembering the ones who've passed away."

At last, one man recalled our fallen soldiers,
brave souls who made the greatest sacrifice.
"These days," said he, "it seems we take for granted
the freedoms for which others paid the price."

"Memorial Day's for soldiers," he repeated,
"and while I love to visit Grandma's grave...
on this day, I pay tribute to the fallen:
the men, the women, and the lives they gave."

And I had to agree. Have we forgotten
the basic meaning of this holiday?
I find no fault in honoring lost loved ones
or making time for families, food, and play.

But let's be sure our children get the message,
undimmed by hope for peace or dread of war.
Our troops risk everything, as do their families;
and in their hearts, it's us they're fighting for.

We may not all agree on every battle;
but sometimes, only blood has kept us free.
These soldier's lives are rendered more than sacred
when yielded in defense of you and me.

Shall we forget our reverence for these heroes,
these patriots who've kept our nation strong?
Will we dismiss a history that earned us
the choice to protest freely, right or wrong?

I hope not. And I hope we keep believing
in all the things that made this land first-rate.
Let none of us lose sight of pride and valor,
or be ashamed to call our country great.

Too many are ashamed, or worse, indifferent.
As apathy extends its stealthy hand,
we're breaking up bedrock that used to ground us
and trading it for shallow, shifting sand.

We're letting go of touchstones: Does this serve us?
Have patriots become the new uncool?
Do flag salutes infringe on children's choices?
Should patriotic songs be banned at school?

Some view symbols as dated now, but are they?
Or are they links that forge a mighty chain?
Our lives are built upon the backs of heroes.
If freedom falls, they will have died in vain.

Can we afford to let go of traditions?
Is there no use in passing them along?
What does it mean when we stand for the anthem,
yet few recall the words to that great song?

What will it mean when no one stands at all...
not for the anthem, nor for anything?
The pride of cynics "goes before a fall."
The pride of patriots lets freedom ring.

Our freedom rings through cities, states, and regions.
It rings across the mountains and the streams.
Give heed! Preserve the fabric of our nation
and raise that standard high on patriot dreams.

Hold fast to all we are and all we've stood for.
Lift up our fallen troops in memory.
Memorial Day is more than food and flowers.
It's nurturing the roots that made us free.

Sorry to wax pedantic today, but this thread I ran across at disturbed me. Most of the posters truly did not know the origins and/or meaning of Memorial Day, which brought up all kinds of concerns I have about the direction our country is headed. No one wants to be stuck in the past, but it doesn't make sense to throw out the baby with the bath water, either. So much of our proud history bears preserving, and traditions are unifying by nature. We could use a little more unity right now, if I'm not mistaken. But we still need common threads to weave that tapestry. And honor and respect have no expiration dates.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Anthem of Ancestry


Anthem of Ancestry
(The I Am meme)

I am from gentle ties that bind; from farmland and baked bread and small, sturdy hands; from goodness and grittiness, grounded in virtue and faith.

I am from Johnson and Peterson, Jansson and Persson; from Albert, Amanda and Annie; from Brita and Lars.

I am from the golden glow of stars on sidewalks, orange-laden boughs and seascaped sunsets, fast freeways and slow summer days. I am the city of angels, gardenias, bougainvilleas, and rose bowls.

I am from long visits and shared stories, from creativity and inspiration, from tightly held pencils with notebooks and journals to fill.

From books yet unwritten and songs to be savored and sung.

I am from poets and pioneers, from Hope is the thing with feathers and Do what is right, let the consequence follow.

From a landed grandfather who traded green fields, the midnight sun, and comfort for a new religion, an unknown nation, and humility.

I am from Come, Come, Ye Saints and All Is Well; from honey bees, lemon trees, and carefully planted roots.

I am one lake away from Stockholm, good growing ground for a tree of life whose leaves branched the ocean to Idaho, swept the Golden State from San Fernando Valley to the Bay.

I am from rhubarb pie and Swedish pancakes, raisin cookies cooling on the rack, baking powder biscuits smeared with honey, peppermint tea, chicken and dumplings in the pot.

From stove-popped corn, drizzled with a whole stick of butter, and freshly-made taffy to pull.

I am from Gustaf Albert Johnson, coaxing dolls out of pinewood to light a daughter's eyes, hands steady for the carving, releasing hidden treasures with his blade. From George Edward Anderson, recording Mormon history, embracing life and people with a lens that loved whatever beauty filled it. From little Myrtle, who died because the doctor valued his weekend more than her life and felt her appendix could certainly wait until Monday.

I am from a bow-wielding mother, Gagliano in hand, sending strains of In a Monastery Garden to my soul; a sister seated at the baby grand, myself a whirling dervish as she played.

I am from music and laughter and Saturday morning house cleanings with Johnny Mathis blaring in the background. From dance class and street tag and double dutch jump rope and jacks.

From summer road trips over BIg diPin rear-facing seats, Dad succumbing to shrieks, putting pedal to metal; from squiggles and hand jives, late-night diner dives, Dairy Queen, Zuma Beach and Mom's sweet, frozen grapes laced with sand. From date shakes, taquitos, and root beer in tall, frosty mugs.

I'm from hills, lakes, and valleys my eyes have not seen; from countries I may never visit, except in my heart.

I am from all the people before me and all who will follow, from sisters and brothers far dearer than others could be. From late walks and deep talks; emotions, complex and profound. From aunts, uncles, grandparents, words (thoughtful words) and intelligence, grounded in truth or uprooted in folly.

I am from sacred traditions and long-held beliefs; from bone-deep loyalties and lasting legacies; from mistakes, made and mended. My life has been tethered and anchored by love that survives.

{the legacy thrives} 

The above "heritage" meme was introduced to me by Friko's World.
Thanks, Friko, for a good idea and a great example to follow!
(There's even a template if you'd like to create an I Am poem of your own.)

for more A posts, click below

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weed Protection Agency

Lighthouse Dandelions - Jamie Wyeth

Weed Protection Agency (WPA)
©2013 Susan Noyes Anderson

We'd like to say a word for weeds,
brave victims of mad plowers.
Why must their sturdy lives give way
to frail, elitist flowers?

We're financing a lighthouse scheme

to offer them safe harbors:
a solar sanctuary from
the dandelion barbers. 


for more mags, click below

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Zig, Zag, Zen-ball

Zig, Zag, Zen-ball
©2013 Susan Noyes Anderson

Sometimes we zag instead of zig
or zig when we should zag.
We go small, meaning to go big;
slide home, but miss the bag.

It's hard to get your game on, right?...
when life throws inside curves.
But if you flinch instead of fight,
you'll lose the game to nerves.

Don't sweat each pitch that comes your way;
another's close behind.
We all take strikes, so save the day
by keeping that in mind.

for more Z posts, click below

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hanging Gardens

 We're pretty excited about my nephew's iTunes success.

 His new album, Hanging Gardens, dropped today!
(click pic to enlarge and read what iTunes thinks)

 iTunes chose one of the tracks as Single of the Week. (lower left)

And look where the album itself is positioned!  (upper right)

 "All You're Waiting For" was definitely worth the wait.

Hey, every track of this chill and vibey album was worth the wait.
(my nephew is pictured on the left)




Check it out here.

for more happiness, click below

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Marvelous Mother

My beautiful mom and me, 1952

My mother, the youngest of seven children, was a bright and talented little girl who lost her father when she was only ten years old and has missed him ever since. She and her mother, my Grandma Johnson, grew even closer as they bonded together to overcome their devastating loss and maintain a good life for themselves. The older siblings had already left the nest, so it was just the two of them at home, determined to make the best of a difficult situation.

Money was hard to come by in those days, but my grandma made sure Mom continued to take the violin lessons that had become so important to her by baking two or three extra loaves of bread each week to give the teacher. My uniquely gifted mother became a concert violinist, and I have cherished memories of listening to her practice and perform over the years.

At school, Mom was an outstanding student with lots of friends. She excelled in both English and mathematics, winning a full-ride scholarship to Stanford that she never used because she married my father instead. Mom had wanted to be a doctor, and she would have made an excellent one. She also had a talent for teaching; and thanks to her efforts, all of us could read well by the age of four. In fact, every one of Mom's children is an avid reader today, and we are pretty decent writers, too.

My mother had a wonderful example in her own mother. Perhaps that is why motherhood was and is the most important thing in her life. After struggling with infertility, Mom was lucky enough to adopt one child and then bear four more, with a number of miscarriages along the way. I remember how excited she was with a successful pregnancy, and she made us all feel like participants in the thrilling, 9-month process. She also loved caring for a new baby and managed to make each of us feel blessed rather than displaced by the new lives that entered our home. Mom knew how to make nurturing and raising a household of children a team effort, and every one of us felt a strong sense of belonging. I am lucky enough never to have questioned her love and devotion for me, and I am certain my siblings would say the same.

Like my mom, being a mother is the best and most important work I have ever done. I love and will always love it absolutely. Every sacrifice made to nurture my children has been more than worth it; every heartbreak, past and present, is more than compensated by the joy they bring me. In fact, I cannot imagine my life without the amazing young people that fill it so naturally and willingly, reminding me that I will always have a place in their hearts as they do in mine. I hope I am worthy of that honor.

So thanks to my devoted mother and grandmothers, my three handsome-is-as-handsome-does (and they do!) sons and my one-and-only, sweet and lovely daughter. Thanks also to my grandchildren, whom I adore, and my "children-in-law" (Heather and Bobby), who selflessly support and embrace the family. We're glad they belong to us. Most of all, thanks to my husband, who played a fairly significant role in making me the very grateful mother that I am!

I love them all.

And you know what? 
They make it easy.

♥ ♥ 

 Thanks for teaching me, Mom.

And for loving me.
{all of us}

You do it well.



Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yerka - Kitchen Confessional

Between Heaven and Hell, 1989 by Jacek Yerka

©2013 Susan Noyes Anderson

My kitchen is perched between heaven and hell,
but it leans in the latter direction.
The dishes I'm cooking are don't ask, don't tell
with abstaining the only protection.

The oven yawns open, though it's on the blink,
as it waits for my latest disaster.
I ought to just chuck the whole thing in the sink
and dispose of the mess that much faster.

But no, I must bake it. The urge is that strong.
Can food go from infern- to supernal?
I'll add Pepto Bismol for luck (am I wrong?)
with a sprinkle of hope springs eternal.

  Others, of course, were not so lucky...


for more Y posts, click below

for more Mags, click below

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Let It Be

Missed Saturday Centus yesterday because I was helping our son move into his new house. He is a first-time home owner, so it was a big deal! Hope Jenny will take my assignment a day late this week. ;) The prompt, as always, is in red.


Let It Be
©2013 Susan Noyes Anderson

She walked on crystal now, laid footprints carefully to cushion every step; pitched her voice softly, so as not to jar the room. Beneath her breath, she raised snatches of music: sweet notes, welcoming and warm; sometimes, she paused to feel the beauty. Her hopes? Set free in brilliant bursts of light, sent heavenward on wings of prayer. There was no prayer, no vow, she did not offer.

At last, the ship she waited for flew sails; was in the harbor, safe and sound; but would it find its way to shore? If thoughts grew hands, she’d set that anchor deeply, bury it in fertile sand, but nature had to have its way. Hers would not be the final say.

But for two golden weeks, this dream was close enough to capture if she could; and she would sing that sailor home, lift high a candle, calm the sea. “Oh, let it be,” she whispered softly. “Let it be.”

Take hold and sleep my child, and peace attend thee.

Written for someone I love very much who is waiting to hear the results 
of her in vitro fertilization. She knows that I am adding my prayers to hers.

X-cellent Athletes, X-tra Proud Grandma

Our 5-year-old grandson is getting to be an expert batter,
and he's not too shabby at manning third base, either!

Our middle-schooler (age 11) is swimming in team meets now.
Check out that breast and back stroke! Not bad, eh?

As for our granddaughter (in blue on the left), she likes to play hoops.
She is following in the footsteps of her dad and uncles!

Too cool.


for more X posts, click below