Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kansas Sun

When I think of Kansas I think of the bright yellow sun in a huge bowl of blue.   I see the yellow, brown-eyed sunflowers thriving in the ditches of dirt roads that criss-crossed the land. I think of Grandma Bentrup's yellow lemon drops and fields of yellow wheat ready for harvest in combines of green.   I see the yellow veins in the buff of limestone wedges;  the rock that the farm house and barn and fence posts were built of in my childhood.

It was the time before Daddy's sickness and daddy's death.  It was the time of romps through fields of grain, mountain climbing high to the top of the barn roof and tromps through buffalo grass pastures.  It was dirt roads that led to enchanted places where old farm equipment became dinosaurs monsters. Old root cellars hidden in pastures spoke of rattlesnakes and long dead lives.

It was the hot sun that tattooed me with freckles and blistered my back.  It was the heat that made me and my sisters seek out any bodies of water we could find.  We would wallow in the dirt brown water and silty mud,  rejoicing in the feel of the liquid gold rinsing our bodies of the dry dust of cattle trails.

It's no wonder yellow is my favorite color.  It is the hot happiness of the summer heat, ripening grain, and the love of a mom, dad, sisters, grandparents, cousin, and aunt and uncles. It was a time of a radiant happiness, at least that is what my memories tell me.  It was a time of adventures, of scientific discoveries, of imaginary tales...

The dirt road south of our farm started out simply as a dirt road.  Muddy when wet, dusty when dry.  To the left were our cattle pastures, to the right a neighbors.  We would set off in the morning before the heat was too unbearable.  Usually it was me and my sister Jan, sometimes all four of us: Susan, Terri, me and Jan.  Our goal to escape the heat was a mile or so up the road where there was a grove of wild plum bushes.  In spring we would gather the blossoms and in the summer harvest the fruit to snack on in the hot Kansas sun.  Purple plums, juicy and sweet, in July.

Before the plums though was the root cellar in the ground.  Just inside the fence,  it teased us with it's open maw in the prairie grass.  We would stare down the steps to the darkness below.  I don't know if it was an old sod house or just a root cellar left of an original homestead.  We were told to NEVER go down those stairs.  There were rattlesnakes down those stairs!  We heeded that warning.  We did not always obey the directions of our parents, but we seemed to know when they were serious.  (Never eat the pink wheat!)  We would stare down those stairs wondering what treasures were at the bottom.  We may have even dared each other to go down a couple of stairs but to my knowledge none of ever went to the bottom.

Today I wish I could go down there to look.  I wish I did know the history of that original homestead and what happened to those settlers.  I know my Grandpa Bentrup was not the first to settle the homestead.

What lives or deaths were lived out in that root cellar?  What artifacts lay hidden in the cellar floor?  And really mom and dad, were  there rattlesnakes hiding in the darkening steps?

Onward we would trudge in the growing summer heat.  Our skin would become slick with sweat and our crooked bangs would matt our foreheads.  Just as we would think we could go no farther the grove of cottonwood trees and the wild plum bushes would come into sight.

The trees would rustle the liquid sound of water sucked up from a hidden spring.  The light would dance off the leaves, first a gray green to a hot summer sun green.  Just the sound could cool us off but the shade was the real thing.  We'd linger until the hint of purple peeping out of the bushes would draw us to full sun and the wild plum bushes.  

We never brought buckets to bring the fruit home.  No, this was a feast for us, a reward for the walk in the heat.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nearing the End

Today I received via email the General Judgement of the Dissolution of Marriage.  We had the court date in August.  My lawyer is just now getting it written up.  I receive it in an email, expecting me to sign it today.  I don't know if it is just lawyer speak but I see some glaring errors.

My feelings?  Anger. Grief.  Resentment.  I am sad my marriage of 32 years is ending.  I'm angry I have to pay spousal support starting March 1, 2013.  I'm worried my boys will never talk to me again.  I'm disgusted with my lawyer.  I have explained things to him at least 4 times, and he still can't get it right.

Why should I pay spousal support starting in March when I am not even divorced at this time?  It's not me that has caused the delay it is him.

It is a brutal ugly world we live in where we violate God's Natural law all the time.

So I took myself off to do some retail therapy with people who love me.

Tomorrow I will find someone to help me interpret the lawyer speak.  I will not sign it until I feel it is right.

It is a sad day...

Monday, March 25, 2013


I know this sounds petty, trivial even, but it was important to me.  There is a part of me that is just a traditionalist, especially when it came to my marriage.  I took such great pride in my marriage.

"Hey look at me!  I've been married to the same man for blah blah years!"

I was proud of being married so long and I was proud to be a mom.  I put my everything into being a wife and a mom.  I changed myself to make it work.  I would even be so bold to say I made an idol out of being a wife and mom.

You know what happens to our idols?  That is why we have the first commandment.  They get taken away.   Before that happened there was the 25th wedding anniversary.

From what I gathered the children are suppose to throw a party for the 25th wedding anniversary. I know people put their pictures in the paper with an announcement.  I wanted that so badly.  I wanted the wedding picture with the 25th anniversary picture and the cute little announcement how the children threw their parents a party to celebrate.

What happens when the children are 3 boys?  What happens when the husband thinks it is stupid or doesn't think it is anything that important to celebrate?  You get nothing.

I just gave up trying.  I was so beaten down by my husband's attitude and the attitude of my boys.  It felt silly and stupid to want a celebration of 25 years of marriage.  I was mocked for wanting such a thing so I gave it up.

There was  no picture or announcement in the paper.  There was no party put on by the children.  There wasn't even a card.  I can't even remember if we did anything at all on our 25th.  I buried my hurt, made excuses for my boys and my husband.  It hurt.

Fast forward 5 years later to our 30th wedding anniversary.  Again I wanted something special to commemorate being married to the same man for 30 years.  It was quite an accomplishment, don't you think?

I remembered thinking it would be really cool to have a special photograph done of Pat and myself.  We were going up to Portland to see our youngest son, Chuck.  Chuck has a friend who is a professional photographer and I made arrangements for us to have a photo session.

We got to Chuck's house, and the conflict started.  For alcoholics it is always about when they can have that first drink and how quickly the buzz can come on.  Next comes the personality change from the combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.  The son and father start fighting as the father tries to exert his will upon his son's household.  The women try to calm and diffuse the situation only to be mocked and told to stay out of it.

The photograph session becomes the hot spot for both of them.  A person just gets worn down.  I called and cancelled the photo session.  I was mocked again for even wanting to have such a thing done to celebrate a wedding anniversary.  It was ugly and sordid, and I felt shamed.

All I could see of my future was being married to a man who only wanted to stay home and drink every night.  Whenever I was around my sons anymore it was them mocking me and putting me down just like their dad did to me.  I was defeated.

I just wanted that anniversary picture in the paper.  I wanted that party put on by the kids.  I wanted to be loved by husband and my children.  I wanted them to show me that love in an obvious way.  I got nothing.

I started counseling to find a way to stay married to this man.  Along the way I found myself again.  I lost my marriage of 32 years.  I have 3 sons who barely communicate with me.  I don't have a family anymore, and that is all I ever really wanted.

I have myself.  I have the understanding now I can only change myself,  no one else.  I am alone- my idols destroyed.

My friends, my adopted family, are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in April.  Their children are putting a party on for them.  I am sick with envy.  I cried.  I wrote these words.

I called all three of my sons today.  No one answered.  No one called back.  I am alone.

I think I want a fancy photograph of me and my dog, Queenie.  I'll hang it on the wall.  Probably won't get in the newspaper.

Monday, March 4, 2013


you guessed it. Guess who I dreamed about last night?  Does this mean my counsellor was right about what he represents to me or was I just thinking about him because of what I wrote?

It's always disturbing....

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Self-efficacy because

I like saying that word and because I fear I am in a rut.

Definition according to math studio: a belief about what one can learn to do.  It is not the same as knowing what to do.

I also wrote down this in my notebook: a generative capacity to carry one's plans through to completion.

I'm stuck, and I fear I don't have any self-efficacy about my writing.  I've been dawdling over this one poem for a month.  I'm stuck still in trying to write in meter and rhyme.  Maybe because it is so difficult for me that I don't even sit down to try?  Yet if I try free verse it feels like cheating now.  Because it is too easy?

For awhile pastor's sermons were inspiring me.  For awhile the old fame was sparking some pretty good stuff.  I went into childhood memories, and that was inspiring.  Now none of them seem to appeal to me.  Yet I know that a writer writes whether they are inspired or not.  There is no excuse like the "muse' deserted me.  Dr. Daniel cured me of that myth.  So why won't anything come or where did my perseverance go?

In one of my counseling sessions I asked why am I having dreams about my old boyfriend.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason for when the dreams occur.  They haunt me.  She told me she believes it represents the creative part of me.  That he is a symbol?  A metaphor for my creative part of me? The dreams represent the creative part of me that has been held hostage for so many years.  She believes it's time to let that part of me out again.  Get involved in theatre again.  Do something with my writing.  Baby steps.

This appeals to me.  It also wars against the parts of me that still feel insecure about my creativity.  To be creative and act upon it means rejection also.  That scares me.  I do too much comparing of myself to others which paralyzes me.  That could be the freeze dried part of my brain.

I think the other part of it is my job.  It is so demanding and keeps getting more demanding.  I allow the job to dictate my life so I don't take time to write anymore.  I HATE THIS!  I want my job, and I want my life.  It should not be so all consuming.

This weekend I left my writing notebook in my classroom and I did not want to go back for it.  I dug out one of my old ones that still had some blank pages in it.  The notebook was from last summer and had several of my poems and drafts in them.  I read them with wonder and appreciation.  The passion was blazing.  The imagery was powerful and compelling. 

 It made me realize what a hole I am in right now. I go weeks without blogging or writing anything.  I still spend a wee bit of time on Saturdays at Starbucks writing, but I only allow myself about 30 minutes.  Because of how much time I spend on my job, my days off are filled with desperate feeling errands that only allow for limited free choice.  I squeeze in my writing.

I felt so frustrated this last Saturday because I sat there and could not think of anything I wanted to write.  So I wrote prose just trying to stir up some saliva in my brain to jump start something.  Blah.  Nothing came of it.

Today sitting in church I read some more of my notes, and I came across a page from a counseling session.  I started to fashion a rhyme around the words.  I came up with a verse.  My mind was engaged with the word choices and what I was trying to convey.  It felt good.

This afternoon I sat in front of Starbucks with Queenie and tried to finish it.  Blah.  So I have been musing about what is going on in my brain.  Metacognition. " I think I can think about thinking."

What I am writing now is the result of my reflecting upon my writing.  Maybe I should try writing prose for awhile.  I need to stop comparing myself to others.  I need to stop thinking that I am too old to even try to get publish and that the train has passed me by.  I need to take the risks of rejection and fulfill the creative part of me.  I cannot accept that I am no good at this and should just give it up.  I cannot go back to the dry desert of my marriage where I chose to give up my creativity to stay married to a man who could not appreciate that part of me.

I need my self-efficacy back!

Self- efficacy

My negativity follows
a labyrinth, a beast
of reinforcement, swallows
the blood, the flesh, in a feast
of high doubt, hate, and deflection,
of a righteous, complimentary thing.
The path betrays correction,
I push on just to feel the sting.

The one I found in my notebook.