Writing My Life

Now and Then


… her birthday was yesterday … I didn’t forget …

Cousin Bonnie was on my mind yesterday, February 22. Had she not died 26 years ago, she would have turned 62 on Monday; 3 months older than me. Because Bonnie was such a talented poet, and because I am proud to be cousin to the Utah Poet of the Year 1983, I decided to pay tribute to her this month. I also love  many of her poems because they speak of people and places I know and love. But there is another reason I felt prompted to remember Bonnie, and I wrote a little bit about that in earlier posts. I mentioned that this cousin haunts me. Maybe I should say her words haunt me. But I’m talking about more than her poems; I’m actually referring to the inscription she wrote in my copy of Wake the Unicorn.

After the poetry readings of Bonnie’s work, she signed copies of her book during the reception honoring her. I waited in line to hug and kiss her and to get my autographed copy. We exchanged warm greetings; I offered my warmest congratulations to her, and told her how very proud I was of this tremendous accomplishment .  I remember Bonnie absolutely glowed in the joy of that evening. Finally, she picked up the book,  scribbled a short message, and hugged me again as she handed the copy to me. I didn’t immediately read what she wrote, but when I looked over the inscription, her words startled me.

While I’ve often battled with my own jealousies, I didn’t really see how anyone could be jealous of ME! (Except for my little sister Connie – but that’s normal because oldest sisters get to do MOST things before younger sisters, including growing older!) I never DREAMED Bonnie might be jealous of me, and I could only guess why because I wasn’t close enough to her to understand how or when this developed. I immediately realized I hated being the object of jealousy even more than BEING jealous.

In a scanned copy of a photo, I present Bonnie in yellow and me hiding behind my hands from what, I don't know!

I’ve often read her poems to learn more about her, and as I do, I see reasons to envy her short life. Those who peopled Bonnie’s world are painted as such interesting characters: the teacher of her one-room school house, the American Indian woman who “speaks of the Sun Dance,” the gypsy with the “black oiled hair” and “luminous eyelids,” and the witch who is  “old as your fear of the unknown.” When I add in the landscapes and the seasons; the pains, the joys, and the love Bonnie saw and felt, I marvel at how intricately she observed and how deeply she breathed in everything around her. Not only in reflection, but in the very moment. To find, then pen perfect words, I think Bonnie must have lived the world – simultaneously breathing in experiences through every one of her senses, and then freeing her heart to examine each sensation. I doubt that this makes much sense because I am trying to describe the indescribable. I should just let her poetry do the talking.

Bonnie, happy birthday.



… a time to chortle … enjoying MoNdeGrEenS

I was supposed to be busy folding laundry, but instead I was peeking at friends’ and families’ blogs. During this diversion, I read an entry that made me laugh out out (lol in textspeak.) It seems that my neighbor’s children were perusing a Disney catalog of available DVDs, and the conversation went like this:

Daughter: “LOOK! Incredibles! (Or whatever movie she was looking at.) We [have] never seen that one!”

Son: “That’s Prince of Diarrhea!”
(Otherwise known to the rest of the world as Princess Diaries.)

First of all, I hope she doesn’t mind that I copied and pasted the dialog; and secondly, wouldn’t you know a boy – even a little one – is the author of a potty reference – even if unintentionally? But that’s NOT the focus of this post! (WHEW! You breathe in relief!)

Besides laughing at the incident, I recognized her son’s comment as a “mondegreen.” A what?  Well, according to one of my favorite references, The Word Snoop: A wild and witty tour of the English Language! by Ursula Dubosarsky, a mondegreen is “what happens when we hear words without reading them and our brains have to work out what we think is being said or, more often, sung.”

The term was coined in 1954 by the writer Sylvia Wright. When she was young she misheard her mother recite a line from a poem:

“They have slain the Earl of Murray,

And they laid him on the green.”

which she heard as:

“They have slain the Earl of Murray, 

And the Lady Mondegreen.”

OH NO! Not Lady Mondegreen, too?

Naturally, I recalled a couple of mondegreen experiences – not nearly as humorous as the Prince of Diarrhea, but memorable, for some reason. An old family story revolves around my sister Connie’s concern about starting kindergarten at Losin’ Clark Elementary School.

I can just picture what she thought was going on at an educational institution that loses people. Maybe teachers just misplaced students named Clark, but it still would give rise for worries, especially for a 6-year-old! With relief, she ended first grade knowing how to read, and therefore, learned that she attended Lewis and Clark Elementary! That tidbit clarified everything: It was LEWIS who lost Clark while exploring the great northwest!

I’m not immune to this condition either. I often “mishear” lyrics to songs, and I always have – even when I was younger and had better hearing, AND lyrics were less complicated: “She loves you. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” – for example.

Nowadays, as I listen to FM100 or 97.9, The Breeze, I hear several of Sheryl Crow’s many songs. One title I particularly enjoyed was “As God is My Hero!” What a wonderful sentiment! I thought as I listened to Sheryl sing the refrain. But then I heard it again, and thought she was considering God’s gender as she sung “As God is My DIVA!” Finally one day, I heard the DJ announce, “That was Sheryl Crow singing The First Cut is the Deepest.”


I’m not really sure if this counts as a mondegreen experience or a hearing loss. But I’m standing by the mondegreen claim rather than entertaining the notion of buying hearing aids.

As I wind up this light topic, I am putting a call out to my many readers to share your experiences with mondegreens. I know my own grandchildren have come up with some doozies, but do you think I can remember what they are? (First the hearing and now the memory – what’s next? Sheeeeesh!)

Anyway, please search your family stories; talk with your spouses to see if you can come up with an example or two. Or grab a pencil and paper, tie it around your neck so that you are prepared to record the next humorous mondegreen that comes out of your little ones’ mouths – and if it has anything to do with potty humor, all the better!

See ya in the comment column!


… a time and a season … an explanation

When a decade of yearly celebrations comes ’round, we humans often put a little extra into the revelry, whether they be birthdays, anniversaries, etc. For no other reason than that, I’ve determined that ten years equals a season. So, here I am 60-something; thus I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am in “the SEVENTH season” of life – NOT the SIXTH; hence the corrected title of this blog. (I forgot that once you enter one decade or century, etc., time leaps into a higher round of numbers.)

While this more accurate title makes me feel older, I am convinced that psychologically it can work in my behalf. (See the comments that follow this update.) Another advantage is that the title won’t be so confusing. “The Sixth Season” was often referred to as The Sixth Sense. Even though I may write about those who have left this realm, that is not the purpose or theme of “Seventh Season.” SEASONS, not senses, are at the heart of my ideas.

While Mother Nature focuses upon 4 seasons, Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us that there are many more than those related to weather. “1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Taking my cue from this Old Testament author, “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Eccl. 1:1), I plan to reflect upon my times and seasons. While Ecclesiastes looks into “the deepest problems of life,” and is “permeated with a pessimistic flavor,” my purpose is to see the light, the love, the larks, and lessons of life and reflect upon them. So, read on …