Dream Talkers

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“They are whispering again!”

My eyes stare into the darkness. I am sleepless in Denver! The Ancestors are talking!

“Go away! Leave me alone!”

Rolling over, I peer at the clock! 11:00 P.M.

“Why does the clock always say 11:00 P.M. the first time I look at it on nights like this?”

Tumbling over the edge of the bed, I fumble my way into the living room and stare through the window at the silent street. Solar lights are still glowing in neighboring yards. Everything is quiet. I decide to get a drink of water, go back to bed and finally go to sleep. (I had been trying to do that for at least two hours!) Once back in bed, I settle down and close my eyes–only to have them pop open again.

“Okay–so what did I screw up now?”

It’s not easy to write a book about ancestors, especially when you attempt to get as up close and personal with them as I am currently attempting! The writing of this book has been in process for several years. And just when I think I have a problem resolved, a new one arises. The Ancestors won’t leave me alone until I correct it. And so after a day of heavy duty writing and just when I think I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished, they start bothering me again. Sometimes it is as though they are saying, “Listen, Dummy!”

“Okay–I’m all ears!”

I relive the day-long drama by walking backward. In the present case, I had been looking for a specific individual and could not find a darned thing about her–just her name, date of birth, names of her parents, and the name of her husband, who happened to be one of my great grand uncles. Also known? The date of the marriage and location. Obviously, they weren’t married very long. So, what happened?

If left unchecked, my imagination can take me down some intriguing pathways. I am soon drawn into the melodrama and by the time the passage is completed, I am exhiliarated! And I go off to bed feeling as though I could sleep soundly all night.

Wrong assumption! Something wraps me on the head! My eyes pop open and I lay there thinking! Sometimes I live and relive these situations all night long. When morning breaks, I struggle off to the living room and log in to my computer. Perhaps the new day will give me a new start and a fresh perspective.

“Gee, I hate deleting all the stuff I wrote yesterday! Interesting how quickly it disappears with a simple select and delete!”

The new perspective works a miracle today! I find the records that eluded me the day before, and the whole thing suddenly reconnects. Bravo! I am pleased!

And I sleep!

Writing is–

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Back in 1995, I was hired to teach a first-semester freshman composition course at a community college in downtown Denver. This was my first experience at the school, and the class was probably one of my more memorable classes over the years. The group was large, and the students seemed enthusiastic about the prospects of the course–all except two. One was only present the first day of class and then disappeared the rest of the semester. She didn’t return until course evaluation day, and of course she gave me a bad rap on the evaluation–the only bad rap I received! When I received my report the following semester and noticed the comment “She should teach me”–I knew exactly who wrote it. Of course, she failed the course. You don’t give an incomplete for non-attendance the entire semester. The other student turned out to be my unforgettable success story at the community college. For purposes of this entry, I will refer to him as “Patrick.”

When I first saw Patrick, he sat in the middle of the back row against the wall. He hunched over slightly, eyeing me as I handed out the syllabus for the semester. Then I did my “teacher thing” by explaining what we would be doing that fall. One of the course requirements involved an in-class writing of a journal entry. I would write the prompt on the board, and students would respond to it–an immediate action-type of thing. If their minds drew a blank, they would write the word “nothing” on the journal page until something clicked, and then they would go from there. Patrick approached me after class that first day.

“I don’t do journals!” he told me.

Always the optimist with my students, I responded by saying, “Well, if you can’t think of anything to write, just jot the word nothing down on your page until something clicks.”

I later learned Patrick was actually a bored high school student, whose counselor recommended that he try some college classes. He was much younger than the other students in the class for that reason. And his journal entries that first week consisted solely of a string of “nothings” followed by an ending comment: “I DON’T DO JOURNALS! SORRY!”

There had to be a way of cracking this egg shell!

I shared my office that semester with the creative writing instructor and discovered that Patrick was also enrolled in his class.

“Each day I keep wondering whether this guy has something or not!” he told me. “He just sits there and hunches over his desk and looks around the room!”

“That’s what he does in mine!”

I began thinking it was going to be a long semester.

Finally, late in the second or third week, I ignited a spark. The students were all present, notebooks open, waiting for the prompt. I entered the room, picked up the marker and wrote Writing is— on the board.

“Now, you finish it!” I told them.

The students wrote furiously, including Patrick. I remember glancing at him, thinking I would get a list of nothings followed by his anti-journal comment. But today, he seemed to be scribbling more! What is he writing? I wondered.

I always collected the entries at the end of class and read through them each evening, writing my own comments on each page. When I arrived at Patrick’s entry, I think I exclaimed, “Oh my!” Instead of his normal diatribe, he created a unique, descriptive passage defining writing. And from that point on, Patrick was empowered. He turned out to be an amazing writer at such a young age. For one essay assignment, he interviewed a hobo by the name of Joe. Joe lived under a bridge outside Patrick’s mountain town, and Joe actually wrote the first draft himself!

“My teacher said I’m supposed to write it,” Patrick told him.

“Aw, she won’t care!” Joe told him. “You can tidy it up to make her happy! You tell my story, you gotta write it raw!”

The final paper–Joe’s original draft and Patrick’s rewrite–was amazing–something you generally don’t see in a first semester college composition class.

Patrick later transferred to the University, where he made a number of marvelous achievements. He took a few years away from school, formed his own band, and traveled the country. And he kept in touch with his creative writing instructor at the community college because he created some phenomenal pieces there as well.

“Oh, he’ll finish school,” the instructor told me. “He just needs to do all of this first. And by the way, he told me he has written a novel! It is 1,000 pages long!”

All of that happened a long time ago. Since then, the creative writing instructor moved on with his life. I haved moved on with my life as well. As a result, I’ve lost all contact with Patrick and no longer know where he is and what he is doing. But he is a wonderful memory–one of those meteorites you see occasionally that brightens the sky and disappears.

Writing is–

It Began With A Beautiful Sunset!!!

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While sitting in my living room last night watching the old 1960 John Wayne movie, The Alamo, I noticed a beautiful sunset through my front window. Grabbing my camera, I raced outside in time to capture it just before it faded.

“You know what that means!” I announced upon returning to the house!

After spending my day yesterday fighting the wind and complaining about a lack of snow this season, I was hoping for results. It seems as though it always starts here, and then comes down with a double whammy in Iowa, Missouri and Indiana. This year–true to predictions in The Farmer’s Alamanac–it is playing havoc with the East Coast. The football playoffs and The Super Bowl are going to be a challenge.

When I woke up this morning, I sat up in bed and looked out the window. What to my wondering eyes did appear?

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Ask and you shall receive, and we are receiving!

I took the snow picture when I first woke up this morning–the reason why it is a little dark. Now at 8:00 A.M., it is daylight, and the snow is still coming down.

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My little forsythia twigs are rejoicing. I planted them two years ago, and they are still holding on and growing a little. I noticed how dry they were when I was putting up the Christmas decorations and when I was taking them down. I’m glad the snow has extended back beneath the eaves. The twigs are now saying, “Thank you!”

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Yesterday, while on my walk, I noticed a freshly planted tree that must have been planted late fall. A huge tree once stood in this area, and I noticed on one of my walks in October that the tree was half-dead due to lack of moisture. Shortly after that, the City removed the tree. You would never know it was there! And they planted this little tree. I’m sure it is quite happy this morning!

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My miniature lilac bush is also rejoicing this morning. I should say my two miniature lilacs. I have one in the front and one in the back. And I’m certain my new bulbs are all rejoicing as well.

8:15 A.M. The world is white outside my front window and the snow is still falling! It is supposed to continue through today, through tonight and through tomorrow. The weather people think we will get two to four inches. I’m hoping for more. We already have over two inches!

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! 🙂

You Gotta Love It!

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Just blew in from my windy walk!!! Well, after all–daily exercise is part of my agenda for the year. (Please notice I said “agenda” and not “resolutions.” Agendas can be revised; resolutions–once broken–remain broken–and are generally pushed aside for another year.)

The wind was gusting at least 50 mph while on my jaunt–strong enough to take this bike helmet flying! At least it was caught on a tree branch and did not land on my head! I was going to cut my walk in half because of the wind, but completed the full route instead. And, of course, my trek took me past the duck pond, which has been frozen solid for at least a week.

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These geese on the ice represent a group of optimists. They are clustered together, facing the wind, hoping the ice will melt, allowing them to swim again. They are part of a larger group of geese that generally feeds on a huge lot near the local post office. Then they take off in groups. Apparently, this group was the last to leave and could not find space available on the larger pond. So they are sitting on the ice–facing the wind–hoping–

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–while I am hoping that we will get some measurable snow! If it doesn’t snow soon, these geese will be able to walk across the pond!

We’ve had a few hits and misses this winter, but it’s all been the dry variety that falls and disappears almost as soon as it lands on the ground. Our snowfall New Year’s Day was for decorative purposes only. Today we have 55 degree temperatures with 55 mph wind gusts! It is January 3! Go figure!

The other day, I looked out my back door in time to see one of my little Eurasian-collared doves on the high-wire!

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This photo was taken of the parents one or two summers ago while they were sampling seed in our back yard. They’ve been visiting our yard for several years now–long enough to have earned the names Wild Bill and Calamity Jane! And they have raised several families. I suppose I dubbed them that because they sometimes take matters into their own hands! I also suppose the little bird I saw the other day was one of the “little ones.” They were back early last year–but not this early! Maybe they know something we haven’t figured out about the prospects of an early spring.

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Meanwhile, back on the ice, my group of believers still faced the wind, hoping it is strong enough and warm enough to melt the thick blanket beneath them. If they can’t do it with their feathered bodies, then the wind will have to help them out.

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On the other hand, I decided, perhaps the wind is signaling the arrival of snow, which is scheduled in the forecast for tomorrow! If we don’t get measurable snow soon–a snow that lasts on the ground for a while–then our flower beds are all going to be toast!

Bracing my body against the wind, I struggled past the tennis courts and grasped a street light while pressing the button for “Walk.” I wanted to go home–not to Kansas! Then forcing my body forward, I struggled across the street–my progress greatly slowed by gusts of wind. I fought to turn up our block and when I finally reached the porch–what did I discover in my mail box?

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You gotta love it! 🙂