Sunday, June 12, 2022

Editor’s porch swing story opened a vein


 I was glad to read that the SOUTHERN STANDARD's editor shared his memorable experiences on his kin’s porch swing. And that his newspaper office in Amity has one now. As long as I can remember, we, too, had a porch swing, and there is still one here. When a boyfriend brought me home from a date, we sat in the swing for a while. If we stopped swinging—it creaked—Dad would throw a shoe at the door to let us know they were close by. Of course, they knew things that we didn’t and didn’t do more than 

kiss, if even that. 

When I moved back to this house in 2006, for a housewarming gift, my late brother, Bill, brought a swing and a rocker. After sixteen years, they are still in prime shape, except the maroon spray paint to match the bricks on the house façade has faded. They need a new coat. The original swing—original to me, at least—had been “sat out” and after repair, was attached to an old swing set in the yard. I don’t recall what happened to that one unless it rotted away and was burned.

                I sit out daily, usually with the two puzzles from the state and local papers and with the pad of daily New York Times crosswords that son Gordon gave me for Christmas last year. I take a pen AND a pencil (I might have to guess at a few answers at first), plus a journal—in case something strikes my fancy, and I can glean a poem from it. I use an overturned plastic planter as a footstool and a thick pillow for a writing surface.

                Right behind the swing, which is on the north side of the long porch, are fifty-five-year-old hydrangeas Mom and Dad received and planted after the untimely death of a young daughter.  Since then, I’ve enlarged the area and planted cone flowers, daisies, variegated (non-vining) monkey grass, Lily-of-the-Valley bulbs, mini nandinas, irises and rose campion that I used to call Lamb’s Ear.

Also, at the northeast corner of the house is a holly tree that holds a mockingbird’s nest. She “speaks” to me—loudly at times—as if to say, “You’re too close; why don’t you move to the rocker?”

A high school friend who visited last year said, “If I lived here (or had a swing) I’d sit out all day.” She was exaggerating, of course, but I understand her feeling.

    The view southeast from the swing lets me see down the road a ways, the south yard “fenced” with rounds of a discarded telephone pole, interrupted now and then by an ancient redbud tree, a Ligustrum (a citified privet) that I planted which is now as high as the redbud, and common and pestiferous privet that seems to grow, like kudzu, overnight. Closer, irises and drift roses, plus a few shrubs from earlier times outline the southeast yard’s barrier of concrete blocks. Originally the delineation between the lawn and the driveway, it’s now a mossy green space with irises on three sides.

I agree with Editor May: more folks should have porch swings. 

c 2022, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA  

Friday, May 6, 2022

Epistolary news to my writer friend


WE HAVEN’T TALKED IN A WHILE: This has been—so far—an unusual week. Tues. was writers group. We missed you. While we were prepping to go out for lunch, Nita got a call that her mother’s house had been broken into and ransacked. While she was talking with her sister, we cleaned up the table, put away the crackers,  etc. N. decided she’d better not leave the house. Her sister had called the police or sheriff and she wanted to not have to interrupt our lunch.

                We decided to ask L., a neighbor in the subdivision, who is a poet and writer to join the group. We have poets meeting Saturday, so I’ll broach the subject with her.

                Leeny and I decided not to eat out either, but came straight home. Guess I got a nap that afternoon, but Wednesday morning was rainy and stormy and I was involved in a good dream, so I slept in—till 11 am! First time I EVER remember doing that! No nap on Wednesday, but a 10 pm bedtime.

                This morning (Thurs) I was back on schedule, I suppose; arose right at 8. At 3 pm, E.’s coming up to take me again to sign the amendments to my Trust papers. So no nap today; another 10 pm bedtime (I usually stay up till 11:30 or midnight.)

                Earlier this morning, I de-grassed the marble-rock patio and planted 4 dianthus at the edge between the hanging baskets of begonia and airplane plant. Still have 16 more such plants to put around the front and perhaps in the concrete blocks along the old driveway. I bought a flat at Lowe’s the first trip to the lawyer (E. took me to be another set of ears) on Mar. 17. I’ve kept them watered since then and the ground is wet (DUH) so they should make it.

                Am giving myself time to re-dress before E. comes, but I don’t want to again get my hands/fingernails dirty by working out before our appointment. Instead, I’ll continue reading CALLIOPE. I refuse to read alien/fantasy/speculative stories, so I’ll get finished sooner than later.

                How many pieces are you sending to the contest? I’m proud that L.’s getting into the competition arena with both feet! Success ‘ll do that to one, right??

    Love, Penny


c PL, dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

                Eager to hear of your Easter and post-Easter activities. Love, Penny

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Why have a ramp and handrails if you don't need them?


                My house may be the only one in Saline County with a ramp and new handrails whose occupant can till walk without help. It’s not a deceitful ruse, honestly. Here’s the story. I don’t think I’ve told it more than once or twice. (Smile).

                While I was pianist for Ebenezer UMC in Tull, I learned about and participated in the 5th Sunday luncheons—either potluck at a member’s home or at a Benton-area eatery. One September, after the lunch, I offered to host the next one, which would be in December.

                One of the church members is wheelchair-bound, so I told my retired-from-the-highway-department son I needed a ramp at the front by the last week in December. “Deer hunting season’s coming up,” he said, “so I’ll have to get it done before then.”

                I supposed he’d throw a couple pieces of heavy plywood over the front steps, and then I could store them in the shed until they were needed again. But, NO! Nothing doing shoddily. He figured out the measurements, bought treated boards, screws, 2 x 4s, etc.

                It’s a beautiful piece of work that will still be good even if the rock and brick house fall down around it. Bob and Annita used it that Christmas I hosted the lunch. I really need to name it “Annita’s Ramp.” But my ill brother used it, too, when they needed to spend a night with me because of a power outage at their home.

                I use it when I have multiple grocery bags to haul in from the Taurus after a shopping trip. On those days, I drive to the edge of the ramp, load myself up with bags, carry them up and into the kitchen. When finished, I drive back around to the driveway and park in the usual spot. It beats multiple trips up the deep south-porch steps.

                When the first ice fell this winter, on a Sunday, I ventured out to pick up the local paper and the AR Demo-Gaz whose only delivered print paper arrives in the long-time paper box next to the mail boxes. In low-cut, old-time tennis shoes, I walked gingerly down the ramp without obvious sleet. On the fourth step, my shoe slid out from under me and I fell into a leaf-padded flower bed landing on my left hip. I wrangled and wrenched myself up and continued to the papers. That’s when I discovered the difference between a winter mix and sleet. I’d slipped on unseeable ice.

                Of course, I had to tell both sons, one in Florida and the one in Hot Springs, the ramp-builder. Hunting season long over, he came the next day, measured for handrails, went home, bought the materials (I always pay him for materials). The day after that, he returned and now there are new 2 x 4, sanded, bolted-to-the-ramp handrails.

            The following Sunday, there was again ice and snow aground. The ramp was covered. How would I get the papers? Oh, I could go down the steep steps at the other end of the porch. I pulled on my Christmas-gift knit cap and started out. But there on the table by the door were BOTH papers!

                It happened again last Sunday—and it was dry. Do you suppose one of the delivery persons noticed the new handrails and decided that lady who lived here needed some help? If so, I offer much thanks (as well as a fairly good Christmas bonus/tip each year). It's Saturday night. If it happens again, I'll need to do some research/investigating, etc. so I can thank them in person.

c 2022 PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Thursday, January 20, 2022

January's unusual experience

 My car wasn't THIS bad!

                Januarys are times most of us reassess, recalibrate our habits, our goals and decide on a new path for the coming year.  Yeah, yeah, but how many of us keep to the project? Still, it’s a positive, encouraging way to attempt.

                Late last year, when one of my long-time doctors, retired, he told me to find a GP, have blood work done so the new doc could continue or change my statin, which had run out. So, I knew that in January, I had to get to Dr. A asap. I called, scheduled an appointment for nine a.m. the first Monday of the month. That was awfully early for an old person, but I had plenty of clothes and coats. The day came: I bundled up, added new snowflake earrings Lydia had made for me, a knitted cap Dot gave the writers for Christmas, fished gloves from the dresser, got my keys, phone, purse, locked the front door and went to the car.

                The temp that night was to be twenty-three degrees. Son said no need to park under the shed porch because there would be no frost, but that I should check the windshield before I left. Ready, I put the key in the door of the Taurus. Nothing. Pulled. Pulled. Pulled. Not a smidgen of movement. Went to the trunk (I don’t know why), it wouldn’t open either! Eek!

                Nothing to do but let myself back into the house, call the doc’s office and unload my icy story. I did and was put on “extended hold.” Periodically, a voice interrupted the music with “We are experiencing longer than usual holds.” I couldn’t dare hang up, so with one hand holding the phone to my ear, I began taking down Christmas decorations. Electric candles from four living room windows. I couldn’t unscrew the nightlight bulbs before storing the candle sets, so I went to the mantel and gently placed the pieces of a porcelain Nativity scene on the coffee table, followed by other, less-prone-to- breakage pieces of other sets. I retrieved the silk poinsettia garlands from the windows, made a pile on the floor. Looked on bookshelves for decorations and found many stocking hangers and Santa Clauses. Down they came and went into a plastic bin of other types of Christmas décor.

                Finally, the receptionist came on the line; I told her my predicament, and we rescheduled for the following Friday at nine-fifteen a.m.! I asked her if there wasn’t a later time and she said Dr. A. only did checkups early.

                Wouldn’t you know it, Thursday night the temps dropped again to 23 degrees. But I was ready this time: I’d parked under the shed porch. Reliving my bundling up including the snowflake earrings, I successfully managed to get to the medical building on time. A good physical: everything checked out. The lab will send blood results when they come back. Whew!

                Lesson: try not to schedule appointments during January.

c 2022, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Friday, December 31, 2021

Goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022


The way 2021 appears now that it's history




 (a double-form piece, Acrostic and Farewell patterns.)


Galloping swiftly, as on fire;

Over minutes, hours and days

Obeying nature’s agenda,

Dashing through time down the

Backstretch of December,

You daze us with speed – an

Entire year gone.”

            Winter’s arrived, calendar-wise, and though we usually consider all of December “winter,” we lived through some nice warm days earlier this month. My tubular wind chimes pealed a lot and I worked in the yard several days.

 The family Christmas at Couchwood was fabulous. As usual. Even with the missing members. Since last Christmas, Gordon turned 60 and his younger brother Eric’s 59th birthday happened on December third.

Though 2021 was full of angst, distress, fingernail chewing events, plus social distancing and mask-wearing, we made it through.

 Around here, with a handyman and a plumber, the broken 1932-era iron pipes to the kitchen sink were pulled out and new modern ones installed. A new, deeper sink replaced the old yellow porcelain one hauled off to who-knows-where. Now, I can wash dishes and send the water through the plumbing with no worry. What’s still needed for this coming year is a new roof. I guess I’ll have to bargain Mother Nature for a hailstorm so the insurance company will foot the bill. This roof dates to the last century!

So, onward to 2022. 

When tax time comes, I’ll be able to post a larger writing income than last year’s pitiable $100. With contest winnings, contributor copies of publications, and a pittance of royalties, this year’s writing income is $300! I’ve written over 400 new pieces and published 480, including the monthly haiku booklets I send to friends. But the expenses of writing heavily outweigh any income.

And books? I’ve read many, many books and have many more to read this coming year.

Ready or not, here comes twenty twenty-two. May it bring all of us a more normal year than the previous one, and also much joy.  


On a free night at UMCOR, a few years ago.

c 2021, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA




Thursday, November 11, 2021

Poetry for Veteran’s Day



                Today is Veteran’s Day.

 the little girl

and her doll

among the veterans 

--(from November Nuggets, 2003). 

Veterans Day 

so many of them marching

behind the flag” 

--(from Connecting Our Houses). 

some have returned

carrying war’s pieces

like shrapnel 

--(from The Last Windfall Pear, 2011). 

crisp autumn winds--

praise all veterans who fought

for our liberty

--(from Before The Frost, 2005). 

Lastly in this section, a cinquain: 


On this

Veteran’s Day,

I think of two uncles

who served: Rolla—Marines; and Bud--


--(from November Cinquains, 2021).


         One year, early in this century, when Poets Roundtable of Arkansas met monthly on second Saturdays, the meeting fell on November 11. Whether or not we each brought a poem to read, or whether we had a contest each month—that detail has escaped me. BUT I did write a poem that I took to the meeting that month. Written as early as it was it does not include many of the last two decades’ wars. Slashes mean new lines; paragraphs mean new stanzas.

                A SALUTE. “It’s Veterans Day, and in my mind/ I see the flags and guns aligned,/ parading down the thoroughfare,/ cheers and chanting everywhere.

                With wholeness gone, but proud and free,/ from wheelchair, an amputee/ waves tearfully, perhaps through pain,/ and hopes it was not all in vain,/ his sacrifice.

                Memories, still vivid, swirl,/ blitzing those who served at Pearl;/ The Rangers now, though all old men,/ smile proudly as they think again/ of Normandy.

                Gunner’s mates, ensigns and chiefs/ remember all their various griefs/ and hells, awaking still to screams/ of slogging through the swamp in dreams/ of Vietnam.

                Returned to glorious accolades,/ the troops of Desert Storm parade,/ proud of their work in blinding sands/ defending Kuwait’s borderlands/ on Persia’s Gulf.

                And in my mind’s projection room/ I hear the drum’s resounding boom,/ reminding me of sacrifice,/ of pain and death; the awesome price/ of freedom.” (published in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, November 10, 2001).


              Finally, the John McCrae poem written in May 1915, IN FLANDERS FIELDS:

                “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row,/ That mark our place, and in the sky/ the larks, still bravely singing, fly/ Scarce heard amid the guns below.

                We are the Dead. Short days ago/ We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,/ Loved and were loved, and now we lie/ In Flanders fields./

                Take up our quarrel with the foe:/ To you from failing hands we throw/ The torch; be yours to hold it high./ If ye break faith with us who die/ We shall not sleep, though poppies grow/ In Flanders fields.”

                God bless our veterans.

c 2021 PL, dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA