Monday, September 27, 2010

A TRIP TO MISSOURI

Occasionally I wander from the Arkansas Ozarks into the hills of Missouri. The other Ozarks. And Saturday hubby and I took off for Springfield so I could speak to members of the Springfield Writer's Guild. The sun flashed on and off through the trees as we headed east through the Middle Fork Valley, following the middle fork of the White River until we climbed a long rise and topped out above the sprawling White River Valley.

Fog banks hung in long white ribbons marking each river and stream that snaked lazily through trees still green and lush from recent rains. The drive to Branson is a familiar one, and from there it's a short 35 miles on north to Springfield. As is my habit, I followed precise directions and promptly got lost. The GPS is so new to me that I couldn't get it to program a route outside of Arkansas. I know it will do so, but after ten frustrating minutes, I wrapped it up, stowed it away and we followed the map.

Might as well not have done that either, for it immediately led us astray when we reached the city. We wanted Battlefield Road but ended in a small suburb of Battlefield, miles from our destination. Happily, I always allow plenty of extra time when I go to speak somewhere. To be late is a no-no, though it has happened when I've driven in circles for hours. However, a kind gentleman in a Quik Trip gave us explicit directions and we were soon on our way back the way we'd come.

We arrived at our destination with twenty minutes to spare. After a delicious lunch in the Heritage Cafeteria with SWG's president Mandy Barke, a vivacious and lovely lady I've corresponded with frequently, I headed for the conference room and hubby fetched his laptop to stay occupied while I talked.

Now, if you know me you know I can talk. Sometime I'll write my experiences in front of crowds before I became a writer. It was debilitating and unbelievable. I think I became an entirely different person when I started to write some 28 years ago (for the second time.) That, too, is another story.

It was standing room only by the time 1 o'clock rolled around and I was introduced. What a pleasure to be greeted by so many eager faces. After 45 minutes of talking, I managed to shut up so members of the crowd could ask questions.

Someone took a lot of pictures, and I have been promised one. When it comes I'll post it here on this blog. I so enjoyed the hospitality of this large and very active writer's organization. We drove home with me pumped and yakking. The very act of sharing ideas always stimulates and inspires me. I'm filled with new ideas and I can't wait to get home and put them to good use.

For this reason I'm going to miss summer, because once winter sets in I'll be home working, writing but not having the interaction with others. Thank goodness for our once-a-week writer's meeting. Still, icy cold nights prevent even that. I will create a lot over the cold months, but I will miss networking with others.

Monday, September 20, 2010

BRAIN WAVES

Recently, I read that our brain sends out electrical impulses or signals for 37 hours after we die. I got to thinking about that and wondering if something or someone somewhere picks up those final signals. What messages would we want to send in the last 37 hours before shutdown?

It's an interesting thought. Thirty-seven hours is a long time for that final message, or is it? Would we list all the things we have learned in a fruitful life; would we tell our friends and acquaintances, those whose lives we've touched and who have touched ours, how we feel about them? Would some of us search out those who have wronged us and seek revenge?

My imagination follows my spirit seeking out loved ones, perhaps saying all the things we might have left unsaid. Oh, sure, I tell them I love them and do it a lot because it's the one statement we certainly don't want to leave unsaid. None of us knows the moment we'll be called away from this home. Did the Supreme Being give us those last hours so we could make amends?

Then it occurred to me that these messages may go unheard, the signal not picked up. There has to be a receiver somewhere. Has anyone ever contacted me? It soon became obvious that I have more questions than answers.

Perhaps we won't be conscious when one of these messages comes to us. It may only be a feeling of being touched, contacted, signaled.

Rather frivolously, I envision how this conclusion was reached. How many lifeless corpses were tested with electronic equipment to gauge how long their brain waves continued to send out signals?

Then again, maybe this was just some guys joke to see how far the information might go. It's an interesting premise for a weird, and convoluted movie plot. I, for one, have no way of testing this statement, so I guess I'll just stop worrying about it and get on with life, leaving what happens in the afterlife to those who poke and prod and cut us after we no longer care. Oh, and to those who write scripts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

PIONEER DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY

A few weeks ago I mentioned having visited St. Paul Library and what a good time I had there. I was invited back to join in the fun and excitement of Pioneer Days in September. That's where my husband and I went Saturday.

It was a scorcher of a day that began with a good rain the night before, but neither detered a good crowd, a fantastic parade and some of the nicest people in the world stopping by my booth to look at my books.

I was delighted when an old newspaper pal from many years ago stopped to chat. We reminisced about working for a small rural newspaper all those years ago and laughed at ourselves a bit. Neither of us can give up keeping a connection to that world. Me with my historical articles, now going into two newspapers, and she with her job with one of the remaining papers from what was then known as The Cherokee Group. So many fond memories of those good old days.

My stories of Tigers and Snakes and Flying Machines will one day be a memoir if my brain continues to hold the memories long enough. Oddly, the paper I originally worked for, The Washington County Observer, out of business these past ten years, has been restored by a young couple interested in keeping this type of journalism alive in our country towns. And I'm writing an occasional article for them. It's like going home, after I spent nine years writing features and news and sports for them back in the 90s. Lots of stories there.

Back to Pioneer Days in St. Paul. The parade featured a good mile long lineup of horseback riders and wagons that followed the usual fire trucks, EMT responders, school teams, etc. People from many small towns scattered far into Washington County rode their horses and wagons, many pulled by mule teams, over to join in. It was a great deal of fun.

St. Paul is remote and peaceful. Though a state highway winds through town, it is quiet with little sounds of traffic. Most people have no reason to be on that highway unless they live in the area. It's probably the closest place to heaven one can find, though I have to say there are many such places in our Boston Mountains of the Ozarks. Our small town of Winslow is another.

After four hours of sitting in the bright sunlight, we reluctantly packed up and came home. I wanted to stay, but without shade, we couldn't do it, and the shady places were taken by the time we arrived. Being a late sleeper has its disadvantages, but I rose as early as my head and heart would allow.

We drove home through the White River Valley with its sprawling pastures filled with cattle and horses and humongous bales of hay laid out for the coming winter. Recent rains have greened up the pastures and filled the nearly dry creeks and rivers. What a beautiful day it was to appreciate and enjoy these mountains we call home. White daisies, yellow sunflowers, and nodding goldenrod filled the ditches on both sides of the narrow highway. In places trees formed a canopy of heavily laden limbs that blotted out the sunlight. All in all it was a perfect day.

Monday, September 06, 2010

BIRTHDAYS, DREAMS AND SILENCE

As the years go by, often much too quickly, I continue to cram as much into each day as possible. It's disappointing to learn that that grows more difficult as one ages.

Sunday was my grandson's 30th birthday and his mother had a drop in party for him. I stayed till everyone left because I so enjoyed listening to those "kids" discussing their plans for that night and for their lives. They are so upbeat and filled with excitement. Some of the statements, like my grandson saying, "I refuse to let my work define who I am." That's refreshing in a day when so many people are in their work up to their necks and do nothing but work, eat and sleep.

He's going to college late because he spent six years in the Army first. Now he's getting his education and wavering between continuing on to Medical School or stopping when he qualifies for a Radiology Technician in two years.

He told his friends, "I want to jump off cliffs and climb mountains and see more of the world." He spent two weeks this summer with some friends backpacking all over Europe. What wonderful memories he's making for himself in a world where that is getting more and more difficult to accomplish.

Sitting in the midst of all this enthusiasm for living, I rejoiced silently. Perhaps we need to worry about some of our youth in this time of drugs and homelessness, but I'm thankful that I don't have to be concerned about these kids I spent the afternoon with. They're clutching life in both fists.

When you're my age, they don't pay any attention to you listening quietly. In silence, one can learn a lot.