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Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of the Year Reflections

(I owned a 1974 Spirit of America Chevrolet Nova as my first car. My late friend, Rita Gray Allen, and I spent a lot of evenings driving around talking and listening to music played from eight track tapes. We were young, strong, and had the whole world ahead of us to explore. Those really were the best days of our lives. This one is for you, Rita, you'll never be forgotten!)

End of the Year Reflections


Another year is coming to an end,
Tonight I lost another good friend,
Started thinking about the days gone by,
Remembered her laugh and started to cry.

Life was simple without a job or a man,
Our biggest worry was getting a good tan,
Loved wearing high heels and nylon hose,
Looked silly with skin peeling from a burnt nose.

Cruising down Main Street in an old used car,
Soaring high though we didn't drive far,
Not in a million years would I have guessed,
All the treasures and riches we possessed.

Youth has fled and I'm growing old,
The winter winds are blowing cold,
Forever woven in my memories,
Are brighter, happier days than these.

Another year is coming to an end,
Another birthday is coming around again,
I'll search for friendship, flowers, and trees,
Build the rest of my life around all of these!


Dianna Doles Petry
December 30, 2010



Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas is Coming - Bah! Humbug!


Christmas is Coming, Bah Humbug!



Christmas is just over a week away and like many others; I've been so distracted with the expectations of the holiday that it's taken away from the spirit of the season. As hard as I try to emulate June Cleaver I still often feel as if I'm lacking in ways or not doing enough for the people I love. Bah-Humbug!

I know that Christmas is going to come on December 25 of every year so why do I find myself trying to cram so many things into a short span of time? Why are even enjoyable activities so physically and mentally draining? I guess for me it's because my daily routine is already so full I can barely pencil in bathroom breaks and the Christmas season means adding even more things to do into my chaotic schedule. There is extra shopping with no extra infusion of spendable cash. There are social events and obligations and last but not least, there is baking and cooking until even the mice in the neighborhood is avoiding the kitchen. I'm telling you, I saw a field mouse today that normally lives beneath the outdoor storage shed. He was sitting there waiting for his mate to butter his sides so he might be able to squeeze through the little gap between cinder blocks that he has always used as his front entrance. I'm not kidding!

I mentioned the lack of additional spendable cash already but many people are faced with not being able to pay utilities and eat at the same time much less buy gifts or materials to create gifts. I have a dear friend who has become so depressed at the lack of finances in her home she has withdrawn from the world. Her mate doesn't understand her moodiness and she doesn't understand his mood swings either. It's stressful to watch so many people planning for gift exchanges, dinners out, and parties at home, when you can barely afford to survive.

Of course, what we sometimes forget is that the people who manage to create a perfect Christmas appearance to the world often do it by overdrawing bank accounts, deepening credit card debt, or letting bills remain unpaid to be caught up after the holidays. I like to think that a lot of the people who will be attending one party after the other and dining out in expensive restaurants to celebrate the season will pay for it by gaining weight, enduring headaches, and maybe even feeling Jack Frost nipping at their toes.

What really gives me a feeling of sadness during this season is remembering all of the people I've been forced to say good-bye to through the years; grandparents, my father, aunts and uncles, and children who were never able to find out what their full potential would have been. I will admit to pangs of regret for not seeing them more often, not telling them I loved them enough, not giving them some outlandish gift they wanted, etc. Those regrets don't last long, however, and I smile as I look back at years past and remember all the joy I shared with these people.

I find it heartbreaking to see families divided over holiday spending, visiting, and even decorations. I feel blessed that my family seldom has heated arguments or disagreements during our gatherings but as a child, I always knew that on Christmas Day there would be fireworks that did not take place in the sky. Some uncle or aunt, or maybe even my own father, would have a little too much to drink and someone would end up with hurt feelings at the minimum. Looking back, those incidents are some of my most vivid memories of less than perfect holidays but they bring me smiles and sometimes fits of uncontrollable laughter.

Christmas is not about the gifts. We all need to accept each other for what and who we are instead of what we feel we (or they) should be. There are many lonely people in this world that would love to sit down to a good hot meal with other people to talk to and enjoy. Many of our elderly have lost all of their friends and family or they are so ill they are confined to their homes or in nursing facilities. If we're lucky enough to have people to share the holiday with and we're able to worry about what we do or don't have then we're alive and that in itself is a gift beyond compare.

I don't live my life like people on sitcoms live and I'm thankful for that. (I have yet to see any of those people take a blood pressure pill and then have to find a restroom every fifteen minutes for the next couple of hours so apparently they don't live like I do either.) Life is not perfect, in fact, it's totally unpredictable. I don't know about you but I plan to focus on what makes me happy and think positive thoughts about the future.

I wish a Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. I am sending you each a cyber hug that has no expiration date, requires no batteries, and has no conditions to meet in order to enjoy it. This hug is absolutely free and if you pass it forward to others it can only increase your joy. What better way to celebrate such a special birthday than to give a gift from the heart?






Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dear Kyle



Dear Kyle,


It’s so hard to believe that you’ve been gone for three years now. I try very hard not to think about your death. I don’t want to dwell on the overwhelming sadness that filled our lives the day you left us. I hope you understand that I choose to relive the many memories you left here with us so I can make the most of every day and every hour I’m here without you.

Today I was thinking about a morning long ago when school had been cancelled due to snow. You loved those snow days! School cancellations meant full days of laughter and chaos with you, Chris, Courtney, and Nicole.

On this particular morning I had asked you to please get the carton of eggs from the refrigerator for me. I was at the stove cooking so I had no idea that you were playing surfboard with your skateboard in the dining room. You skated to the refrigerator, grabbed the eggs, and then started towards me.

One of the skateboard wheels got caught on a Spawn action figure that had been lying on the floor. The board stopped but you didn’t! You were careening face first in my direction. I turned just in time to see you fighting to keep your balance and managed to catch the carton of eggs in mid-air. You landed on the floor with a thud. Before I had time to set the eggs down the dog ran to your defense thinking I had made you fall. She jumped, using your stomach like a trampoline, to knock the carton of eggs from my hands.

Chris helped you up while giving you a lecture about not riding skateboards in the house and the cost of repairing action figures on a limited allowance budget. The girls were giggling and you were feeling less than manly with egg still dripping from your shirt. You must have decided to seek some revenge because you grabbed Nicole up by the seat of her pants and gave her a wedgie that would have made the Incredible Hulk blush. You put her down and kissed Courtney on the cheek. She ran off screaming about “cooties” while Nicole was still trying to dig her underpants out of her butt cheeks.

After breakfast I asked each of you to do a simple chore so we could have play time. I should have realized you insisted on doing the dusting for a reason but it never occurred to me that you wanted to polish the dining room floor to make it better for skateboarding. I figured it out when I started through the dining room with stocking clad feet and promptly landed on my ample assets.

Chris tried to help me up while muttering something about feeling like “some kind of superhero” because he was always rescuing people around here. He fell on the floor right beside of me. The girls, thinking I was simply wrestling around on the floor with Chris, were on top of us before I had time to blink. We looked like a group of football players after a tackle on the playing field.

By the end of that day we had worked on arts and crafts, read stories, wrecked havoc in every room of the house and drank enough hot chocolate to keep a battleship afloat. I wanted to call the Superintendent of Schools and offer him a bribe to make sure school would be open the next day.

Your mischievous nature and your infectious smile are a part of the memories that I hold onto when I’m feeling lonely without you. That day at the hospital when you were lying there comatose, I told you that I loved you. I looked around those sterile surroundings and thought about hanging up a poster or two and maybe a banner to tell you to “Get well.” I wondered if I should send someone out for a couple of balloons to hide the wires and monitors that were attached to you. I didn’t want to give up on you but as I stood there watching you I knew there was nothing I could do, nothing the doctors could do, there was nothing anyone could do.

The grief all of your family felt is just inexpressible. My last words to you were to tell you, “It’s okay to let go. We love you and we know you love us.” There was so much more I wanted to say but the words would not surface. I wanted to hold you in my arms and make everything better one more time the way I had done so many times before. When I looked at you one last time I saw that you looked peaceful and that comforted me a bit.

You were fiery with a wicked sense of humor. You were brave and you were honest. You loved to watch the sun rise and you felt serenity ease into your soul each time you watched a sunset. Tears and laughter, hope and promise, success and failure, were all a part of your short life. We were blessed to know the depth of your love and your spirit lives on within the heart of each one of us.

We have all dealt with your death in different ways. I have found many hours of solitude in a flower garden I planted in your memory. I’ve filled it with angels and special stones that remind me of you. In this garden, I work with nature and replenish my spirit. Each weed I pull is a bit of grief I am pulling from my soul. I know you would not want any of us to lose out on a second of living life to the fullest so I make it a point to experience everything I can in your honor.

Your presence is strong in my garden when everything is fresh and full of life. I can see your smile there and different memories seem to be wafting on the breeze each time I’m out there working. Each time a flower blooms it is as if it is shining with hope and reaching for the sunshine. As I stand and look at the garden and replay memories of your hugs, your smiles, your birthdays, holidays, our conversations, and each day of your childhood, I always wonder if my life could ever enrich this world as much as your life did.

We love you, Kyle, and we always will. You will never be forgotten as long as any of your family is breathing.

Love,

Your “Nana”

© Dianna Doles-Petry
 11/30/2010



Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Memory of Thelma Clonch


Last Thursday, November 11, death claimed my neighbor and good friend. I first met Thelma in the early 1980’s but had known of her long before that time. Thelma, at that point in time, had a reputation for rescuing stray animals and for owning not one but two Lincoln Continentals. People thought of her as being a bit eccentric, I thought of her as being content to beat to the sound of her drum. I knew she had four sons and I also knew she had been widowed but for a long time that was the extent of my knowledge of Thelma and her life.


Thelma married “Slim” and moved into the house next door to my family. Slim had been my friend since my family moved into this neighborhood when I was just eleven years-old. His wife, Geraldine, had provided me with loving guidance when my mother first developed cancer in 1974. I visited Slim and Geraldine on a daily basis and they helped me to find the strength I needed to cope with my mother’s illness and all of the responsibilities that had fallen on my young shoulders. My brother and I filled a space in their lives they had never filled with children of their own. They made me laugh, they made me think things through, and they helped me find faith. When Geraldine died a few years later after a long battle with lung cancer I felt an emptiness I could not explain in words.

Thelma was an intensely private person by nature but gradually she started to toss snow balls at my young boys, talk with me across the fence, and visit with us on holidays and special occasions. Slowly, oh, so slowly, she allowed me into her private world. I eventually realized that Thelma feared having anyone discover her vulnerabilities, or at least what she considered to be vulnerabilities.

She and Slim were happy for a number of years before his health began to decline and he became more and more confined to the house. My boys had grown into young men and Thelma often called on them to help her pick her husband up after he fell or was just too ill to get on his feet. I made many trips with Slim and Thelma to the hospital, often in the wee hours of the morning. During our last trip to the hospital with Slim before he passed away he asked me, in a whispered voice, to please make sure Thelma was taken care of and not allowed to grieve for too long.

After a respectable period of mourning, Thelma remarried. Dan, a widower, was friendly and seemed to cherish his time with Thelma. Once again she seemed happy and that brought me a sense of peace. Her happiness, however, was to be short lived. When Thelma’s seventy-eighth birthday was approaching, I asked her what she would like to have to celebrate the occasion. Her response was, “As long as I don’t receive an oxygen tank I will be happy with anything.” It wasn’t long after her birthday that I noticed she sometimes seemed bewildered by decisions she had made herself and she became much more opinionated than I had ever known her to be. She was dealing with the impending death of an adult son at that time and I often wonder if she had any inkling then that her health was beginning to fail.

Over the last couple of years I have grown increasingly closer to Thelma and for the last six to eight months she has been a part of my household on a daily basis. She was a wonderful companion for my mother and she was eager to help me with simple chores such as setting the dinner table or sweeping the porch. She knew she was a part of my family and I am sure she felt useful, needed, and productive here.

She grew so cantankerous with her husband, however, that they could no longer live in the same house. He returned to the home he lived in before they married and she remained next door to be close to my family. Her husband was saddened that he was in one house and his wife was in another house but it was the only way they could get along and I agreed to make sure she was looked after for as long as possible.

Her stubborn refusal to visit a doctor or follow any helpful advice about diet or hygiene often reminded me of the teenagers I have dealt with over the years. She was rebellious and struggling to keep control of her life but it had to be a painful experience for her. It was painful for me to watch her struggle so fiercely. She feared losing her home, her independence, and what remaining family members she had left. She feared ending up alone without dreams or hopes for the future. These losses would be devastating for anyone at any age.

I guess we think of the elderly as more wrinkled and less independent but still the people they used to be. Sometimes we are just totally in the dark about what an elderly person is going through or what made them view the world the way they do. Over the long sometimes frustrating months I cared for Thelma on a daily basis I got to know more about her than I had in all the previous years before. It’s a bit sad that we sometimes wait until a person is trying to make peace with advanced age and infirmity before we really stop to listen to what they’re saying or see the years of experience that lives inside of them.

Thelma was only a few months old when her mother died from heart failure. She lost a brother at a young age and she had a teenage sister who was found dead in her bed one morning when she didn’t appear for breakfast before school. Her father loved her but Thelma was handed from one family member to another during the first seven years of her life because he liked to drink too much at times and he never remarried after her mother’s death. She finally settled in with her sister, Mamie, after Mamie married. When Mamie gave birth to a daughter, Thelma treated her like any big sister would treat a new sibling. They grew up as close as any two sisters could be.

She gave birth to four sons during her first marriage. She hung cloth diapers on a clothesline, sterilized glass baby bottles, carried babies on her hip while she worked in the garden and she read every book that was available to her. She never obtained a formal education but she wanted to be able to help her children with school work. She continued to learn throughout her lifetime.

A few weeks ago, Thelma was watching me prepare dinner and she told me, “I know that I’ve peeled more potatoes than any soldier that ever served on K.P. duty. My family thought they had to have potatoes with everything. I’m surprised they didn’t want mashed potato milkshakes.” I thought about that comment later and realized that she probably prepared thousands of meals during her lifetime. No wonder she loved to eat at restaurants in her later years!

One day she told me about an adventure she and her sister had with new hairstyles and make-up. “Well, Carol looked like she had a bee’s nest on the top of her head because the woman that did it kept teasing her hair and piling it up. It was so stiff with hair spray that she had to bend her head to the side to sit on the bus. Mine was not piled as high but was sprayed just as stiff with hairspray. We both had on so much make-up that we could barely open our eyes. We reeked about like an outhouse too because we had sampled every bottle of perfume we could find and it was making us sick from smelling ourselves all the way home. I fell over a coffee table and broke it when we got home. All our daddy could say was that we sure did look good.”

Thelma should have earned a medical degree for all the years she nursed measles, coughs, scrapped knees, mumps, colds, viruses, broken bones and even broken hearts. She became a caretaker to family members suffering from heart conditions, old age, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. “Why, I’ve taken care of twelve different people,” she would say, “and every one of them died!” I understood exactly what she meant but hearing her say it that way as her eyes widened and her face flushed with color added a touch of humor to the declaration. In reality, there is very little humor in a caregiver’s day.

My friend lived a full life. She knew the thrill of passionate love, the total unconditional love of a mother for her children, and the undying love we hold close to our hearts when loved ones leave this earth. She saw moments of success in her life as well as the heartbreak of mistakes. The warmth of friendship was a blessing she gave thanks for on a daily basis and the overwhelming sorrow of losing a child was always close when she knelt in prayer.

Thelma, like many elderly people, seemed to be obsessed with the past. I’ve seen the same thing with my own mother. It is more than just reliving good times or wanting to relive their youth. I think they need to feel that their life mattered to the family they know they will leave behind and to future generations yet to come. They want to understand what their life has meant in the grand scheme of things and they want to know that they are leaving memories that will linger on long after they’re gone. Thelma understood there is no battle between despair and euphoria. Life is both.

I don’t know how many meals she cooked or how many times she scrubbed the floors after someone got sick in the middle of the night. I don’t know how many cars she owned in her lifetime, or how many bedtime stories she read, or how many animals she rescued from the side of the road. I am positive however, that she had her share of laughter and tears, sunrises and sunsets, success and failure. She was compassionate and had a burning desire to make a difference to any wounded, neglected, or hungry animal that crossed her path. Her need to nurture spilled over to the people she held dear but she never wanted them to know how much she cared. She never wanted people to see her as weak or dependent. I have felt those same feelings many times over.

I am also positive that I learned from Thelma. I discovered a deeper potential within myself and an understanding that it is possible to be too independent. Sometimes instead of being so stern and self-reliant we need to let others see our vulnerabilities. Our past is a part of our present and what we are living today will be a part of the person we become in the future. It is unavoidable. It is life.



She is not dead,

She’s soaring up high,

The earth lies beneath her,

She’s a twinkle in the sky.



She is not lonely now,

She’s not worried or in fear,

Her sadness was left behind,

She’s crying not a single tear.



She's looking down now,

Hoping you won’t grieve,

She’s in a far better place,

She needs you to believe.



She is not dead,

She’s soaring up high,

The earth lies beneath her,

She’s a twinkle in the sky.



© Dianna Doles-Petry

11/18/2010



Friday, October 8, 2010

Mother Talks to Elvis



Mother Talks to Elvis
 
My mother is eighty-six years old now with another birthday quickly approaching. It seems like only yesterday that she had beautiful dark hair, intelligent dark eyes, and could manipulate just about anyone she came in contact with just by flashing her wicked smile.
 
Like all women, she had moments when anger flared. She didn't stay angry long though. Something would make her laugh and once she started laughing she couldn't seem to stop. Her laughter was absolutely infectious. I watched her closely then, mostly trying to figure out what made her tick. I loved her and I hated her. I confided in her and I lied to her. She could appear not to care about anything in the world except her soap operas but would protect her children the way a lioness protects her cubs. Now I watch her closely again, but this time it is because her feet move slowly and she can no longer keep a train of thought for longer than a minute or two.
 
Mother once longed for the day when she could sit and relax without having to cook, or clean, or do anything at all she didn't want to do. She got her wish. She lives in her own little world now where there are no responsibilities and no worries. She talks to herself, she talks to her long dead mother, she talks to the cat, and she talks to Elvis.
 
She talks to Elvis about her past life when she was young, strong, and beautiful. He has been hanging directly behind her bed and he's heard just about every detail of her life from her loves to her losses. She mentions her children and she talks about her hopes for the future. I guess being eighty-six is not too old to think about going dancing, taking a trip, or practicing now to make sure the honeymoon goes smoothly later.
 
Today something went terribly wrong. Elvis apparently had the gall to show up with two of his "hoochie mama's." My mother looked at me, her eyes brightening, and informed me that she would not return to her room until that "no good b****** is out of there with them harlots." There was no way to convince her that Elvis died in 1977 and could not possibly be in her room. I did the only thing a good daughter could possibly do at a time like this. I walked into her room, said "BOOM" in a loud voice, and took the photo of Elvis down off of the wall.
 
"What happened in there?" She said forcefully.
 
"I shot Elvis, Mom. Just because he's a famous man does not mean he can treat my mother anyway he wants to treat her. He won't be giving you any more problems." Her eyes softened, her body relaxed, and she became silent except for the sound of her breathing.
 
I carried the tin type photo through the dining room where my mother was sitting and then took it through the kitchen and out the back door where I placed it in an outdoor storage shed. It joined a few mirrors that frighten her, a few photos of family members who refuse to talk to her, and two porcelain dolls that were aggravating her because "They just won't go to sleep and I'm tired of changing their diapers."
 
A chuckle found it's way to my lips at the same time tears were welling up in my eyes. Mom used to tell funny stories to anybody who would listen to them; neighbors, people in line at the grocery store, or just strangers she passed on the street. She has spent the last year or so talking mostly to Elvis and now he's gone. Who would she talk to now on those rare occasions that she wanted to talk at all?
 
I laughed as I thought of my mother years ago. She had entertained people by stretching her tongue out long enough to touch the tip of her nose. Our house often looked like a band of monkeys had used it to practice target shooting with dust balls but my mother would look past the mess and see the humor of the situation. Of all the things my mother has given me, the most important would have to be my sense of humor and it is surely serving me well during these trying days. She's going to miss Elvis. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to bring him back into the house. Of course, she still has her laughing pig to keep her company if I can't bring Elvis back.
 
© Dianna Doles-Petry
10/08/2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fleeting Moments of a Day



Fleeting Moments of a Day
 
I stood sipping on a cup of coffee, staring out of the window, past my own reflection, to watch the river flowing along peacefully this morning. I heard the whistle of a train coming in the distance and as it neared, thought it sounded mournful. It has rained here the last couple of days and the chill in the air has made me cold right down to my bones. I don't know why it is but days like this seem to turn my thoughts to the negative. While standing there at the window this morning I thought it would be nice to be somewhere else or maybe even be someone else.
 
Later in the morning, as I was trying to get the newspaper out of the delivery box and blink away the rain drops that were filling my eyes, I slipped in a puddle of water and landed right on my ample backside, ripping my jeans. As I made my way back to my feet, I heard another train whistle approaching and felt the vibration of the train rumble down my spine. It was as if it was stroking each and every nerve ending as it slid down my back. I stood there in the rain waiting for the train to come into sight, feeling as if I was about to be flattened.
 
By the time I went back into the house, my thoughts were as jumbled as a jigsaw puzzle fresh from the box. Has my life been marked only by bills and receipts, faded photographs, and empty medicine bottles? What if I just fall backward into the past and never find my way back to the present. Looking around my home I realized that was not really what I had planned for my life.
 
Before long it was time for lunch and my mother, along with my elderly neighbor, sat at the dining room table. I served them sandwiches along with steaming bowls of vegetable soup. Both women are in their eighties and though my mother is suffering renal failure and a host of other ailments, she still has an almost radiant promise about her as she talks. She smiles easily and often as she tells stories about her life. I haven't been sure for several years now of whether the stories are truth or embellished fiction but they often cause me to laugh and today was no exception. The neighbor, on the other hand, is a person filled with a sense of impending gloom and doom. Maybe, I thought, I've been spending too much time with this lady.
 
"Is your granddaughter still wanting to have a baby?" The neighbor asked with a melancholy tone to her voice. "Boy, they're a lot of trouble once they get here."
 
"They cheer you up!" My mother said with a mischievous smile. "They smell like talcum powder and they keep you so busy chasing them you don't have time to think about sex."
 
"Sex! Good Lord! I was so busy taking care of people I didn't have time for..."
 
My mother interrupted her. "Oh, that's hogwash! You wouldn't have had all them people to take care of if you wasn't enjoying your old man."  The neighbor's face reddened.
 
"Well, did you get pregnant easy?" The neighbor asked.
 
"All I had to do was take my shoes off!"  My mother said boastfully.  "I had to start sleeping with my shoes on to stay out of trouble."
 
My neighbor's eyes widened and I burst out laughing. I felt cheerful, like myself again. Sometimes I get so caught up in tackling the care giving, the dishes, the phone calls, and the laundry that I feel like I am never finishing anything at all. The truth is, I'm doing pretty much everything, everyday, and doing it well.
 
This evening, watching an autumn sunset, I felt quiet and peaceful inside. I will always have chores, regrets, and probably doubts but I will also find laughter, moments of serenity, and rays of sunshine. Life is good.
 
© Dianna Doles-Petry
10/06/2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Perfect Horoscope



Do your follow your horoscope each day? Sometimes my horoscope sounds like more of a horrorscope. Would you like to read a horoscope that is perfect for you? Here is my version of a perfect horoscope for the week. I hope it makes you chuckle. 
 
Virgo***August 23 - September 21
 
When you feel tense, indulge in a soothing bubble bath or Swedish massage. Avoid starting new projects now if you're out of duct tape.
 
Libra***September 22 - October 22
 
You will be driven to distraction by the vague indecipherable mutterings of a self-proclaimed poet. Regain your concentration with a funny DVD marathon....or a romp in the sack.
 
Scorpio***October 23 - November 21 
 
Johnny Depp will appear in your dream and tell you to follow him. Go! Jump on the wave of productivity and plan out that dream vacation.
 
Sagittarius***November 22 - December 20
 
There comes a time in every person's life when he or she must move aside and let the younger generation take over. Now is not the time for you.  Your children are not old enough to take over the moonshine still.
 
Capricorn***December 21 - January 19
 
Your next door neighbor pulls down her blinds every night. She may be hiding something. You're quick to point fingers but get proof before you blame a friend.
 
Aquarius***January 20 - February 17
 
Someone finally tells you what a sweet, thoughtful, considerate person you are. Don't take it too seriously. It's a common tactic used by fundraisers.
 
Pisces***February 18 - March 20
 
A sudden outpouring of love and support from your family and friends should be your first clue that you've hit the lottery jackpot.
 
Aries***March 21 - April 19
 
The devil will appear in a cloud of fire and brimstone to prove to you once and for all that he did not, in fact, make you do it. Tell a pushy pal no when she pressures you to accompany her down the wrong path.
 
Taurus***April 20 - May 19
 
You will make the right choice between a rich and fulfilling social life or rich and filling desserts. Be sure to stock up on chocolate and caramel.
 
Gemini***May 20 - June 20
 
You may feel cheated when you discover there is no law on the books that says you must be nice to elderly ladies. Watch out for sarcasm. Loose lips can be as painful as a staple gun to the face.
 
Cancer***June 21 - July 22
 
You think of yourself as having a wonderful sense of humor but you really don't see anything funny about polyester pants, belching the alphabet, talking ducks, or passing gas.
 
Leo***July 23 - August 22
 
You will be shaken to the core...especially if you're strapped to a paint can shaker while it's running.  You will soon realize that your mommy isn't the only one who thinks you're special. 
 
© Dianna Doles-Petry
9/21/2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Family Memories



Family Memories


I was thinking about my grandmother's house tonight and how her family would gather on the porch. She had never seen a microwave or a computer and she didn't own a single Tiki torch. There was no such thing as an I-Pod, we sang together instead. My grandfather made an appearance in his long-johns when it was time for bed.

My grandmother spread the old kitchen table with fresh garden vegetables, gravy, biscuits, and beans. The aroma of blackberry cobbler filled the air and grandchildren seldom caused unpleasant scenes. Aunts and uncles talked about the past and never let anger stand in the way. Whatever happened yesterday was gone, they started with a fresh attitude each day.

It was just a little four-room house with a garden out in back. Everything was crooked but it didn't matter to Grandma Mac. She loved to hold a new born baby, loved to sit in her porch swing. She talked to us about life and love and never seemed rattled by anything.

My grandpa got up to dance a jig just before he became bedfast. Summers once seemed endless but they're not meant to last. I can still taste the cobbler and ice cream I ate until I had my fill. I feel blessed to have these memories when so many never will.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

9/7/2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

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I’m sitting here at the keyboard with a blank screen in front of me. It has an appeal I cannot describe that borders on addiction. The keys are smooth beneath my fingertips and innocent, yes, as innocent as a toddler. I can take myself on an adventure just by tapping these keys, stroking them until I decide they can endure no more. Where are the words I need? How can I begin an adventure without words or inspiration?

My thoughts are rambling and I am sure I am teetering between being sane or becoming insane. Have I written too much? Have I chosen my words the way a shopper might chose a dinner meat? Have I added a pinch of humor here, a pinch of detail there, and maybe a dash of mystery to involve the reader? Will I write my thoughts down in poetic form or should I scribe my thoughts into prose?

The screen is white, almost white hot, burning my optic nerves if I stare at it for too long. There are no edges, no boundaries, and no depth to the screen that could give birth to a printed page if only I could collect my thoughts and type them out. I long for my words to burst forth with the same urgency a lover feels when they need to be touched. I can almost feel the warmth of completion known only to those who have freed their soul, their heart, and their mind by putting thoughts on paper.

I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, a cat curled into a ball at my feet, three pieces of chocolate, and a heart shaped necklace around my neck. What will I write about today? It’s not as if I have a charmed life to write about. I touch the sterling silver heart shape of the necklace and hope it will inspire me to write about flowers, love, rainbows, friends, holidays, or anything at all. Anything, that is, except death. I do not like to write about death, nor think about it, nor imagine what it feels like. No, I shall not write about death today.

The screen is white but my muse has finally touched me on the shoulder. He is pointing something out to me with a long narrow finger. He is pointing to the floor beneath my desk. Beneath my desk…what in the world could there be beneath my desk? Is he showing me the dust bunnies? Is he trying to tell me I could write about the white cat now purring loudly but still lying at my feet?

I finally understand that my muse wants me to look downward because everything that has ever happened is now beneath my feet, even the things I don’t want to think about or talk about or even hear about. The past, even something that happened just five minutes ago, is like an old movie that I can remember seeing but didn’t really play the lead role in myself. There are plots, scenarios, and paths within my past. I have found inspiration! Thank you, Muse!

My fingers are sated now. They are touching the keys of the keyboard in a frenzied rush to put moments into words before the train of thought derails. I pause just long enough to softly touch the screen as if arousing a need within it. I have found the words I need, the words that fulfill me, the words that warm my soul and keep my heart beating. I no longer have a blank screen in front of me. I may never have another blank screen in front of me again!

Dianna Doles Petry

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School Days



School Days


My Goddaughter, Courtney, and my son by choice, Cole, both returned to school yesterday after a long summer of what seemed like endless days. They’re teetering on the edge of adolescence. Adulthood, and the reality of the responsibility that comes with it, is within sight now but still just out of their reach. This is the last stage of childhood and the first step of a long journey filled with possibility and potential, dreams, challenges, demands, and often, failure or heartache.

School, from Kindergarten to the day we graduate from high school, gives us more than just an education. It leaves us with powerful memories and many relationships that alter the way we think about others. I can still remember how awkward I felt my freshman year in high school. Entire class periods slipped by while I did little more than watch the clock and pray for the class to be over. I didn’t realize that in wishing for the class to end I was also wishing hours of my life away.

Waking early, I walked onto the front porch this morning just as a morning mist was giving way to sunshine. A cool breeze flirted with my neck and carried the strong aroma of my coffee deeper into my nostrils. Maybe today would be a good day to pick weeds out of the flower bed or scrub the kitchen walls while there was no sign of life waiting for home cooked food to be consumed before it had time to cool. The strong scent of Cole’s body wash and several applications of his favorite cologne wafted through the screen door and out onto the porch. Within minutes he was walking to the bus stop to mingle with other teenagers until the school bus arrived. I started to feel as anxious as he probably felt on this first day of a new school year.

I remained on the front porch long after the bus had pulled away from the bus stop. I was at peace with the morning until the squeaking sound of my back door opening signaled the approach of my neighbor. She was ready for a cup of coffee and conversation. Quickly after her entrance my mother slowly shuffled through the dining room in anticipation of a hot meal and conversation. My day had started to unfold and my thoughts were dancing with the past when I had been a student attending my first day of high school.

Oh, the lessons I learned in and from school! I learned about the Presidents, the Civil War, World Wars, and current events. I learned to sew, learned to exercise, and learned how to speak properly. Creative writing, and this should come as no surprise, was my favorite class. The teacher in that class often told us, “It’s not the length of the pages that make up a book. It’s really the depth of thought that makes up a book.” Oddly enough, until this morning I hadn’t given a single thought to that quote in years.

I learned, during my first week as a high school freshman, about water fountains. Two handsome young men from the senior class had picked me up and promptly placed my ample backside on top of the water fountain. Before I could jump away, as if I really wanted to jump away, one of them had turned on the ice cold water. I had no choice but to walk to my next class looking like I’d just had a terrible bathroom accident. In all honesty, I loved every moment of that few minutes of fame. I laughed about it and silently gave thanks to God for allowing it to happen while moaning and whining to my friends about how embarrassed I was about it.

You see, I was going through that backward stage of my life. I didn’t think anyone really listened to me but I was also very much aware that there were some things my parents would not want to hear anyway. I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts. I like to think I was cultivating my mind but I was most likely just brooding because I was sure I was able to handle the world if I could just get out there to handle it! A few seconds on the water fountain, a ritual at that time, made me realize the world was far larger than the little bubble I was living in. Maybe my parents were smarter than I thought they were at the time, but probably not, so I quickly dismissed that idea.

I experienced a lot during that freshman year of high school. By the end of the second semester I had absorbed all the knowledge I needed to make the perfect paper wad. Two boys sitting in front of me in English class helped me to acquire that knowledge. I learned how to pass notes without them being seen by the teacher thanks to the well-endowed girl sitting to the left of me in math class. She was two years older than I was and she had a crush on a boy sitting to the right of me. Because of her age and rumors about her strength, I was almost afraid to get caught passing her notes to the boy; after all, it was important for her to get the answer she needed from him. “Do you think I’m cute? Circle YES or NO.”

By the middle of that school year I had also learned how much I cherished the long lazy days of summer. I longed for the conversations shared on the front porch on long summer evenings. I yearned for the carefree hours I spent at home with friends and family I wasn’t competing with to gain acceptance, grades, or social status. School is never easy. If you’re unpopular it’s stressful to feel alone all the time and if you’re popular it’s stressful to feel like you never have any time alone. If you’re gifted with the intelligence of a rocket scientist you’re expected to know everything all the time and if you’re closer in intelligence to a slug you are expected to study non-stop until you gain the proper level of intelligence your teachers and peers expect you to have.

One of the most important life lessons I learned was how much I needed to respect individual differences and I wanted others to respect the qualities I possessed that made me different too. We cannot all be thin, or have blonde hair and blue eyes, or understand Algebra as easily as we understand how to change the channels on the television set. We all have genetic codes and personality traits that make us unique but if we didn’t the world would be a very boring place to live.

As I sat with the two elderly women talking to each other, neither truly hearing what the other was saying, I realized they were communicating much the way a lot of students in high school communicate. They nodded a lot, looked like they were deeply interested, and occasionally uttered, “Yes” or “Well, I’ll be.” Physically they were present here but mentally they were still young women falling in love, driving to town, or dancing the night away.

I wondered if these ladies faced their school years with the same anxiety and eagerness students have today. High school is just one of life’s rituals, the passing of a torch; the coming of adulthood and the going of childhood. “I bet that boy is going to have more girlfriends than he can handle,” my mother said with a toothless smile. Somewhere within the shell of this eighty-six year-old woman there is a high school freshman full of dreams hoping for a hot date!

This morning I watched these two “tweeners” as I lovingly call them. Both were filled with excitement and ready to take on the world in their new clothes and new haircuts. Both were also full of anxiety as they started another school year. I know the summer has come and gone much too quickly for them and yet, I know they need to move forward. I know these things because I have been where they are standing now.

I heard my neighbor say, “When you’ve lived as long as I have….” I smiled. Courtney and Cole are still young pups, still facing a future looming with surprise. They don’t have to worry about bills yet, or whether or not the lawn is too dry, or if there is food to prepare for breakfast tomorrow morning. Right now their major concerns are keeping folders in order, passing quizzes, having friends, and falling off the stool in Science lab because they’re trying to get a better view of their current love interest…oh wait, that was me just thirty-five years ago…

Some things just never seem to change.



Dianna Doles Petry

8/24/2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Evolving Friendships




The teenage years, when I’d get to hear every single detail of a friend’s life, seem to have passed by me in the blink of an eye. I think about the silly chats I once had with friends, the important secrets we shared that didn’t turn out to be important at all in a short span of time, and the vows we made to keep in touch before we took on adult responsibilities. Our biggest worries back then were grades and what our peers would think about us.

I wonder if they all went through a period of time when they had no idea at all about why we were put on this planet. I know I sure did. As the years have passed my views on life and my priorities have changed considerably. Instead of seeing my future as being filled with endless possibilities, I now view it as a limited time to fulfill goals I’ve set for myself.

I’ve made serious attempts to be the best friend I can be to all of the people I care about but I know there have been times when I’ve let someone down or had to cancel or postpone a project or planned get-together that I really intended to see through. That always bothers me because I believe we hold our dear friends to a much higher standard than we do anyone else. You see, I know that if I've hurt a close friend, even if unintentionally, it hurts much deeper than the same disappointment from someone they didn't care about. I am familiar with both sides of the coin; "We always hurt the ones we love" and "Because we love them, they hurt us the most."

Maybe I still want my friendships to be like they were when I was younger but the reality of life is that no matter how guilty I feel about not being able to communicate on a regular basis, my friends are pretty busy with their own lives and probably guilty of the same broken vows to keep in touch.

The problem is that when we feel rejected or hurt we tend to hold onto those feelings instead of looking back and remembering the times when the same friend that hurt us was the one making us laugh or comforting us when our heart was shattered.

I’m often guilty of wanting to be a better friend than my life allows at this place in time. I often think about the times a friend has held my hand in a crisis or called me up and listened while I sobbed uncontrollably about an event in my life. I cherish the friends I still have who make themselves available to me when I’m distraught or maybe even ecstatic about a blessing that has fallen to me. I love close, honest and intimate friendships. Lately though, I just don't feel like I am able to give enough of myself to really be a good friend.

For the sake of self-preservation I’ve had to learn how to limit my overwhelming list of demands. I can only tackle so much every day. While I no longer need a perfectly trimmed lawn or a plate of fresh baked cookies sitting on my dining room table at all times there are routine chores and obligations that I cannot put off no matter how much I would like to avoid them. Like most of us, I often need forgiveness and understanding from the people I have reached out to so often throughout my life. I need to be able to interact with others who have walked the path I’m walking now and offer advice, suggestions, and a friendly ear.

I don’t sweat the small things anymore. If I’m stuck in traffic I don’t beat on the steering wheel and growl because I’m going to be a few minutes later getting to my destination. I allow myself more time to make the trip and if I get stuck in traffic I pull out a notepad and write down my thoughts, or make a store list, or write a note to a friend I have been thinking about. Sometimes I just sit there listening to the radio and allowing myself to totally relax. It’s wonderful. You should try it.

In short, I’m the best person I know how to be. I would never hurt anyone intentionally and I will not apologize for the direction my life has taken. I’m not a teenager. I’m a fifty-one year old woman who is a caretaker to two elderly women, a mother who still wants to lead her children by example, and a human being who has spiritual, physical, and mental needs of her own. I made a new vow today. I will make sure I am as healthy as possible both physically and mentally. I will embrace change instead of avoiding it even though I may not always like it. Friends come into our lives for a reason and while not all of them stay around forever, they all contribute to our lives by helping us see things in a new light or guiding us to new spiritual or emotional heights.

I have friends and family who believe in me so if there are one or two people who choose to be upset because I don’t meet their expectations, so be it. It only takes one person having faith in another person to work wonders in a lot of lives. I will allow myself the precious gift of time for myself and not feel as if I’ve created a world catastrophe because I can’t be everywhere, doing everything, for everyone at all times. Lastly, I will work on having more patience for myself and for others. To truly live life we must have roots and wings. We have to stay grounded and still be able to evolve and change as our lives change and take us in different directions.

The teenage years weren’t that great now that I think about it. Every day there was a major drama going on whether it was a pimple that appeared the morning school photos were to be taken or a broken heart because a boy I’d never spoken too asked someone else to a dance. These days there are very few things that truly rattle my cage. I don’t want a Silver Shadow Rolls Royce or tickets for a rock concert anymore. These days I want laughter and friends to share it with because it keeps reminding me that life is beautiful. As I've matured, my friendships have too.

Real friends value us when we don’t see a value in ourselves. They overlook the hurts, the cares, and the disappointments in our lives and try to lift our spirits. A true friend helps to build self-esteem and the courage to share parts of ourselves we might prefer to keep hidden. In order to be a good friend to someone else I have to start with myself. My grandmother once told me, “Wise is the person who fortifies their life with friendships.” I have no idea who made the statement originally but I finally understand exactly what it means! If I've ever spoken a hateful word to any of my friends, or neglected to see a need even if it was unspoken, or failed to carry through on a promise, I am deeply sorry.

For years I taught my children "It's the thought that counts." I was wrong about that. Words don't mean much if there is no action to go along with them. Charles Kendall Adams once said, "No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction." I hope from now on I can give more to my friends than they expect or need.

© Dianna Doles-Petry
8/5/2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Making Peace with the Inevitable


In December of 2007, my family buried a teenager. He was taken from us suddenly and I remember thinking how wrong it was for us to be saying good-bye to him when it should be the other way around. It just seems to be the natural order of life for children to outlive their parents. Still, we are not prepared to lose our parents either, no matter how old we are when it happens.

At some point over the last decade or so, my mother and I seem to have reversed our roles in life. I have become her caretaker and she has become quite childlike. Now there is no doubt that the end of her life is near and even though it’s a natural part of life and I’ve known it was coming for quite a while, I find myself struggling with my emotions. Each smile, each sunset, each sunrise, and even each tear seems so much more important now that it would have in the past.

My mother’s body has grown tired. Her kidney function is dwindling daily, she has congestive heart failure, bladder cancer, and dementia has robbed her of many memories she wanted to hold onto throughout her life. Still, she smiles easily and often. Yesterday her doctor informed me that it’s time to make a decision that cannot be put off any longer. Do we want her to undergo dialysis or just keep her comfortable and let nature run its course? At eighty-six years of age with so many health issues I don’t feel dialysis is an option.

On our way out of town after leaving the doctor’s office my mother went into a panicked state. I thought it was because of the conversation we had just carried on in during the office visit. She was looking down at the floor of the pick-up truck I was driving and jabbering but I could not make out what she was saying. “Mother, look at me and tell me what’s wrong!” I said.

She looked at me with a very startled expression as she replied, “My feet are gone. I don’t know what happened to them but they’re gone.” I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“They’re right there at the end of your legs,” I said trying not to laugh out loud. “Oh, Sh**!” she replied, and that was that. She is accustomed to riding in my much larger SUV and the truck is much smaller. There have been many moments like this one shared between us. She trusts me to take care of her. She trusts me to protect her. She looks at me the same way I looked at her when I was a young child and she was a vibrant mother nurturing her young.

My emotional struggles come from wanting to be honest with my mother without making her afraid. I want to comfort her without being negative. I want her to know as much happiness as possible while she’s here. If it makes any sense, I think we start the grieving process the moment we know we are going to lose a loved one very soon. I want, no, I need her to have peace of mind.

I am grateful that I am a very outgoing person. I know that I can reach out to my friends and family for support and advice when I need it. I am grateful that many people in my life make an effort to keep me smiling no matter what adversity comes my way. My mother has none of those connections anymore. Her whole world is here in this house. Her immediate family has all passed away or lives too far away to travel back here to visit. I have assured her that the people she has loved who have gone before her will be waiting on the other side for us, not just her, but us.

I’m sure one of the biggest regrets anyone has after losing a loved one is not having shared how much they were loved and appreciated. Sometimes they don’t share those feelings because they are so reserved they bottle up emotions. A lot of times though, people don’t express their feelings because they don’t want to say, “I hope you feel better soon,” when there is no hope for recovery.

My mother and I have not always seen eye-to-eye; in fact, we have had our share of ups and downs. We have totally opposite personalities. She never saw the need for higher education. I never seem to get enough education. She hated change, I thrive on change. She was content to stay at home and I enjoy travelling. I wanted my children to know her and spend time with her but I reminded her on more than one occasion that they were MY children and they would follow MY rules. I cannot say I regret the moments when we didn’t see things the same way. We learned a lot about each other when we disagreed and had to work things out to get past the hurt feelings or misunderstanding.

When we lost the teenager it happened so suddenly that there was no time to say good-bye. There was no time to express our love one more time or tell him how proud of him we had always been. He had no time to be held as he passed away or tell us how he felt about the life we had shared up to that point.

Maybe knowing that someone is dancing with death is a blessing in a strange way. There is time to remember the good times we’ve shared and talk about them with her. There is time to tell her that although I often thought she was too possessive and too strict, she did something right because I’m happy with the woman I see in my mirror every day and it was her impact on my life that made that possible. It’s a sad point to make but maybe the compassion and tenderness we give people when they near the end of their life is lacking when we take each tomorrow with them for granted before we know they are suffering from a terminal illness. Each day could the last one for any one of us.

Moments in life soon pass,
But the memories they made,
Like music play on and on,
As youth and beauty fade.

Words we left unsaid,
A touch we never gave,
Tears we cry in the still of night,
Are carried to our grave.



© Dianna Doles-Petry

7/9/2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Acceptance of The Versatile Blogger Award from Ruth Cox

My Acceptance of The Versatile Blogger Award from Ruth Cox




Me Versatile? Versatile: Capable of dealing with many subjects. It is this definition that allows me to accept this award.


The Versatile Blogger Award I have received comes with rules:



1. Thank the person who loved me enough to bestow this gift. (A big thank you to Ruth Cox and a private email has been sent as well.)



2. Share seven things about myself.
    1. I am blessed to have many friends and family members willing to share my life.
    2. I believe that we are all unique and yet, we are all the same.
    3. I am a combination of the past and the present with a strong desire to make a difference in the future.
    4. I am a proud lifelong resident of West Virginia.
    5. I am a addicted to chocolate and not ashamed to admit it...Goddiva anyone?
    6. No one loves their children more than I love my children.
    7. I am a writer. I set free the rumblings deep within my soul by sharing my thoughts and feelings through poetry and prose.


3. Bestow this honor onto 10 newly discovered or followed bloggers – in no particular order – who are fantastic in some way.

Amanda -  Amanda's Love and Writing Blog
Karen - Karen's Love and Writing Blog
Lena - Lena's Love and Writing Blog
Debra - Debra's Love and Writing Blog
Anca - Faraway Designs Blog
Elizabeth - Elizabeth R's Blog
Mish - Mish's Love and Writing Blog
Pattie - Pattie's Blog
Luxury Reading - Luxury Reading Blog
Ruthi C - Ruthi Reads



4. Drop by and let my friends know I love them!
I'll be dropping by all of the blogs I follow.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Writer's Dream



A Writer’s Dream


My daily life is chaotic and stressful to say the least. Sometimes I fear I won’t make it to bedtime before I collapse. There are other times when I don’t want the day to end. The great thing about this kind of life is that it often gives me something to write about. Over the last few weeks I’ve dreamed about my writing career. Trust me when I tell you that nothing in this dream came from my daily life.

Before I share the dream, let me clarify that it is purely a dream. I realize there are very few Janet Evanovichs, James Pattersons, Dean Koontzs, or Laurell K. Hamiltons. That level of success in the writing industry is rare. I am aware that I should seek publication first and worry about a paycheck from my words of wisdom much further down the line.

The Dream

I was standing there leaping up and down like a Kindergarten student who needs to go potty or some sugar buzzed ADHD poster child wanting attention. “What is wrong with these people?” I muttered to myself as I looked at the large cardboard boxes filled with copies of my books that needed to be loaded into my silver Mercedes Benz. None of my neighbors would stop to help me no matter how hard I tried to flag them down as they drove past me.

Once again I was running fashionably late for another book signing at Books-A-Million. It was the man-servant’s day off and I had to decide how to get the books loaded without scratching the car or getting scuff marks on my brand new designer shoes. The high-heeled shoes did not match my outfit of blue jeans paired with a simple silk blouse at all but I didn’t seem to notice. I placed two of the heavy boxes into the truck of my car and proceeded to enter the car so I could drive off to the book signing. As I pulled my left leg into the car I failed to lift it high enough for the heel of my shoe to clear the bottom of the door opening. Off went the heel of the designer shoe and blood started to spew all over the floor of the car even though I had not pierced my skin at all. “HELP! Somebody help me!” I screamed.

A very handsome male model came to my rescue. He was carrying a pair of hiking boots with him that just happened to be exactly my size. He slipped my foot out of the broken shoe and started to stroke the shoe as if it was a kitten or pup. Out of thin air he pulled out a roll of paper towels and blotted up the blood that had pooled around my feet in the floor of the Mercedes. Lovingly, he then slipped my right foot out of the other designer shoe and helped me place each of my feet into the hiking boots. As I pulled away from the mansion, I could see him cradling the broken shoe as he walked away from the main house and into a field of wild flowers.

As I neared Books-A-Million I could see a crowd gathered at the front door. Men in business suits were sipping on Slurpees and women in everyday household attire were sipping their Starbucks coffee. All of the people there were watching every vehicle that pulled into the parking lot as if they were waiting for their favorite movie star to arrive so they could catch a glimpse of her.

It was a long and exhausting book signing. Everyone who arrived wanted an autograph on a copy of my latest best seller. I had to stop signing books when two of my fingers actually broke off of my right hand and a couple of computer geeks started to fight over who would get to keep them. As I sat there trying to decide how to hide the fact that I was missing fingers, one of the geeks jumped up and yelled out, “Holy crap! I’ll make a bundle from this on EBay! Can you autograph this?”

My Thoughts about the Dream

I guess as writers we all have a need inside of us to be recognized, to gain fame and fortune, and have at least one best seller to our credit at some point. We all have to believe that what we write might be of interest to readers. Maybe the shoes in the dream represent my determination to move forward and breaking the heel was an obstacle or determent to reaching my goal?

I’ve tried very hard not to be apologetic about my writing even when it brings a tear to someone’s eye or makes someone burst out laughing and wake up everybody in their house late at night. I’ve finally gotten over my fear of rejection and I submit, submit, and submit! Maybe the male model was my concept of perfection sometimes taken to the extreme and expecting too much of myself and others?

Maybe my dream is trying to tell me that I’m working too hard and need to make sure other parts of my life have a chance to live. Am I using too much energy on my writing and allowing my faith, my humor, my passion, and simple pleasures to slowly fade into the sunset?

This particular dream causes me to wake up feeling as if I need to change my outlook on my life and my career goals. For now, I am going to keep forging ahead with my goals of being published more often and eventually making it to the New York Time’s bestseller list. Oh, and just in case that male model happens to show up here with or without shoes, I may be AWOL for a while. I just thought I should give you prior warning. A girl can’t work all the time without taking time to play a bit!

© Dianna Doles-Petry
July 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rhyme or No Rhyme




I am a poetess. I desire to share my thoughts freely. Sometimes my poetry rhymes, very often it does not. Today, while speaking with another writer, the topic of rhyming poetry came up during the conversation. Does rhyming poetry add something desirable to the poem if it’s done well? Is trying to rhyme a poem actually restrictive? Inquiring minds want to know the answers to these questions.

Personally, I have read many good poems that have rhyming line endings. I have written many poems, although I cannot say they have all been good, with rhyming line endings. Occasionally, one of my poems will take on an almost musical richness because of the rhyming. My problem with rhyming poetry is the feeling that it is often forced rhyming that gives it an elementary school sound.

During a Creative Writing course in high school I was taught that a poem without rhyme was not really a poem; it was prose. Later, in college, I was taught that just about any words put together that leave the reader with the impression of having just experienced spontaneous thoughts and gratifying insight could be viewed as poetry.

Many songwriters, (Tim McGraw is one that comes immediately to mind), use rhyming lyrics that flow very smoothly with the music. Performers of hip-hop can create rhymes from words most of us would never consider using in poetry. I’ve tried to emulate that form of rhyming just to see if I can pull it off and let me assure you, the written version of that form of rhyming poetry just does not work for me. Reading it instead of listening to it makes all the difference.

Free verse is much easier for most poets to use and allows them to express what they truly want to say. Trying to fine tune a poem to force it to rhyme usually gives it a nonsensical feeling and in all honesty, the English language has few true rhyming words and even fewer that have not been used so often they have become fatigued.

This is just my thoughts on the subject. Most writers, I’m sure, will start to write a poem and only then know if rhyming is going to work for the piece or not. If you need to be more disciplined or orderly with your poetry then rhyming may give you that old school appearance and flow. As far as I know there are no rhyme cops that will take you away for using rhyming line ends or for not using them if free verse helps you unleash your thoughts more profusely.


I am just a poetess,
Sharing words as I go,
I like to believe,
I’ll find some answers.

Time is a precious gift,
Another is a friend,
Harmony and humility,
Captured with my pen.


© Dianna Doles-Petry
June 28, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dreams



Dreams


I’m sure we have all had dreams from time to time and normally my dreams are purely fantasy. Often Johnny Depp is waiting for me on a beautiful white sandy beach or maybe I’m winning the lottery and being able to travel all over the world. Lately, however, my dreams have been a bit peculiar.

Before I begin to tell you about a couple of my most recent dreams, let me first tell you that I live in a small town. It’s so small that if you sneeze as you drive through it you’re going to miss the whole town. While I do occasionally dress in fine attire, you are far more likely to find me in well-worn blue jeans and a casual blouse. This is not a gated community and all of the houses are as unique as the people that live in them. Some are cluttered, some are colorful, some are little more than rundown shacks on the side of the road, but all of them are filled with history and personality.

I would imagine that most dreams are comprised of symbols. Some dreams might include symbols that frighten a person, some might include symbols that invoke some kind of emotional reaction, and I’m sure that some dreams have very deep meanings if you can figure out what they are. More often than not, my dreams make me wake up smiling or laughing but at times, like my dreams of this past week, I wake up feeling confused and wondering what in the world I could have been thinking subconsciously when I went to sleep the night before.


The First Dream

The first dream began with me walking out of a tiny brick house onto a driveway that was paved with old red clay bricks. It was one of several identical houses all lined up in a row with exactly the same siding, paint, lawn decorations, and even flowers. I was dressed in a black mid-length skirt and dark gray snakeskin boots. (Like I would ever wear ANYTHING that had anything to do with a snake!) Gold chains hung around my neck that were so heavy they nearly pulled my head forward onto a bright red silk camisole that I was wearing alone as a blouse. Sparkling rings adorned each of my fingers including my thumbs and I had enough keys in my hands to open just about everything a person could think of that might be locked.

I got into my car, a fiery red 1976 Trans Am, and proceeded to back out of my driveway. In front of me was a four lane freeway but I couldn’t get to it. A man riding some kind of fully dressed out motorcycle was blocking my access to the road. (I’m pretty sure it was a Harley because I could see a puddle of oil beneath the bike.)

I couldn’t get around him and he would not move over. He got off of the bike, stood up laughing, and started to shove his greasy looking shirttails into his pants. “You don’t have to worry none, Miss, I ain’t gonna bite you,” he yelled out to me.

The next thing I knew, the motorcycle was airborne and the silver-haired, slightly balding, Hell’s Angels want-to-be, was flailing his arms and cursing into the air as if his backside might be on fire. I was no longer driving a classy Trans Am. I had somehow switched vehicles and was driving an enormous camouflaged Humvee.

Once I was on the freeway, I was surrounded by coal trucks, cars, pick-up trucks with hound dogs tethered to old tires in the beds of the trucks, and ATV’s that were cutting in and out of moving traffic causing people to hit their brakes to keep from hitting them. I could not get my darn window to roll up no matter what I tried and it seemed to take forever to get to the local post office exit.

When I was close to the exit I could not get into the right lane to make the turn. Directly beside of me, in the right lane, was a bright neon pink Volkswagen pulling a full length camper the likes of which you might have seen in the 1950’s. The trailer began to move from side to side behind the little car and I saw the pretty little pink car tip nearly on its side as the trailer nearly flipped. The driver regained control of the car and trailer and I looked over to see my friends, Eddie and Denise, laughing wildly and waving frantically as if the whole thing had been funny.

I had passed the exit I needed to use to get to the post office and by the time I got turned around and drove back; it was already getting dark outside. The post office was closed and I started back home frustrated that I had not been able to get my mail. Once I got to the row of identical houses, I could not figure out which one was mine until I saw my dog, Sable, standing on the front lawn wagging her tail.

I went inside and didn’t bother to fix anything to eat, take a shower, or notice if anyone else was in the house. I lay down on an overstuffed purple couch and drifted off to sleep. The really odd thing was that when I woke up, I was sleeping on the living room sofa.

Maybe all the traffic represents all the chaos in my life. Maybe I’m trying to find the right direction for my life. Maybe I am longing to intermingle with family and friends. Or maybe, a car is just a car, a road is just a road, confusion is just confusion, and I watched far too much of the Sci-Fi channel before I went to bed!



The Second Dream

This dream took place within the walls of my home although the size of the dining room was greatly enlarged. In the middle of the room was a very large round table made of oak. It was void of a tablecloth and in the middle of the table there was two crystal bowls filled with every kind of fruit you could possibly imagine.

The walls of the room were lined with framed portraits of family members. Some of the portraits were in black and white, some were blurred, some were faded as if they had been in direct sunshine for far too long and some were as bright and colorful as if they had just been hung, maybe even before the paint could dry.

I passed through the dining room and made my to the kitchen where I started to cook up pots of spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, beef roast smothered in gravy, egg noodles, vegetables of all types, and desserts too numerous to mention. In the dream I could see in detail the spices held inside of the cabinets and smell the wonderful aroma of the food as it was prepared. I felt exhilarated knowing that friends and family would derive great pleasure from my efforts.

After the last dish had been prepared, I went about setting the table with china that once belonged to my late aunt, wine glasses given to me by a late friend, and silverware handed down to me that once belonged to my late grandmother. When I was satisfied that everything was as perfect as I could make it I took a shower and dressed in causal khaki slacks and a peasant blouse to wait for hungry guests to arrive.

Two hours later, I was sitting at the table with a tall glass of iced tea and a paperback novel in my lap. I stood up, looked out the window for any sign of approaching cars, and began to pace back and forth across the length of the dining room while the food was left untouched to get cold. It was then that I noticed the portraits changing.

Dates started to appear at the bottom of the portraits; 1890-1936, 1895-1954, 1918-1989, etc. As each date appeared I took a plate off of the table knowing that I had set too many places for guests. Soon I was down to only one plate, my plate, and I sat there alone with no appetite and no desire to move out of my chair.

Just before I woke up, I started to clear the food off of the table and looked out of the window again. The sky was dark but bright stars were so numerous that the front lawn was lit up as if the sun was shining. A feeling of peace coursed through my veins and I had the feeling I would soon be among those bright stars shining down on the earth.

I’m pretty sure this dream was born of old memories. Family gatherings and feasts on any special occasion has been a big part of my life. With Memorial Day having just passed and Father’s Day coming soon, my thoughts have been spiraling back to days of my youth when my grandmother’s kitchen would be filled wall to wall with uncles, aunts, cousins, my grandparents, and both laughter and tears. I had no idea back then just how important those moments and those people really were. Wisdom really does come with age, I’m sure of that now.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

June 19, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Early Morning Quiet

(Photograph by Kyle Pack-Doles 2007)


Early Morning Quiet

In the early morning quiet,
New blooms wait for sun's kiss,
Baby birds tweet for nourishment,
I cherish moments like this.

A second cup of coffee,
As I think of days long ago,
Tin lard pails holding blackberries,
There was much I didn't know.

Life seemed to hold a grand secret,
Shared with only a few,
Sunshine warming my shoulders,
My future was still brand new.

My pace is slower now,
But there's more I hope to see,
Maybe if I'm lucky today,
Inspiration will shine on me.

In the early morning quiet,
Wings flutter and flowers yawn,
Peaceful moments of my life,
Arrive as beautifully as dawn.

© Dianna Doles-Petry
6/8/2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tapestry of Reflection


Tapestry of Reflection


Lately, I’ve been feeling, for lack of a more delicate way to describe it, older than dirt. Many of my friends and most of my family are either dying or dead. I no longer leave home often for work because I am the sole caregiver to my eighty-six year-old mother. My children are busy living their lives, following their dreams, and are preoccupied with relationships. I should have listened to my grandmother when she told me “Child don’t ever grow old.”

My lawn has become my reprieve from daily negativity and my escape from the rooms in my home that seem to grow smaller with each passing day. I have entered a new phase of creation and perfect maintenance. I work with the soil, I plant seeds, I cultivate flowers, and sometimes while digging up a plot of ground for a new rose bush or Hibiscus I find a treasure trove of memories. I found one of those today.

I stopped to allow a few tears to flow when I found the old rusted out coffee can buried about a foot deep in my back yard. When it was placed there the boys had called it a time capsule. When I first hit the can with the shovel and stopped to see what was keeping me from digging into the soil, I was aware of just how much time had gone past. I gently scrapped away the dirt around the can and with trembling hands lifted it from the burial spot two young boys had chosen about fifteen years ago.

Inside of the can I found two empty shotgun shells, a piece of old pipe, an old porcelain insulator, one Batman figurine with a broken arm, one Spiderman figurine with a missing foot, one black checker and one red checker, and about four of my daughter’s N’Sync dolls. Her dolls, I’m pretty sure, were not meant to be any kind of clue for historians. There were meant to disappear and never reappear where the boys would have to see them.

Children enter the house wrapped in blankets, snug in the arms of anxious parents. Before long they are drooling and spitting up on everything they come in contact with. They learn to run almost before they learn to walk and it seems like only hours have passed before you hear, “Mom, he just hit me with that rubber chicken!”

I wish I could remember more of the concoctions the boys put together when they thought I wasn’t paying attention. The youngest boy once painted the bathroom walls with a mixture of toothpaste, mouthwash, and spray bathroom cleaner. “You said you didn’t like the color anymore and wanted to paint it,” he said in self-defense right after I cut loose with a high pitched scream that broke the next door neighbors drinking glasses.

Once the two boys, determined to have revenge on their older sister, decided to cook her some pudding. She had used the boys as make up experiments when she had friends over and the older boy was left with a strange shade of blue on his eyelids while the younger boy looked like he had a permanent case of Fifth's Disease on his cheeks. The pudding was a vanilla pudding base (leftover dessert from lunch that day), mixed with balsamic vinegar, red food coloring, and plastic ants that were strategically placed in the bottom of the serving dish. Thank goodness the first bite gagged her and she never found the ants!

Then, before the mess from the pudding was even cleaned up, my daughter appeared in designer blouses, pierced ears, and painted nails. A telephone seemed to be growing from the side of her head because it was always attached to her ear and she was always with a friend. They giggled when the rest of the house was quiet and sat sulking over God only knows what when the rest of the house was alive with noise and movement.

The boys were wearing pressed shirts and tight fitting jeans, brown and blonde locks (respectively) either plastered down on their heads or sticking up in the air as if they just stuck their finger into an electrical outlet and the voltage escaped through their heads.

The girl loved to shop, one boy was artistic and the other boy loved to play basketball. Then one boy decided he must be in dress clothes at all times while the other boy wore jeans and sweatshirts with hoods. All three children were enthusiastic when report cards were due from school because they knew they would receive an extra allowance for each “A” they received. One time I thought I would have to take a loan out on the house to pay them for the perfect marks they brought home but I didn’t care. It was worth it. THEY were worth it.

The boys sometimes made their sister cry. She sometimes made them laugh out loud. Somehow it all balanced out and they learned from each other. “You retard!” she said to one of the boys. “You nerd!” one of the boys replied.

“You’re brats!” she said loud enough for me to hear. “Well, you’re like a bad apparition that won’t go away!” the oldest boy replied.

“Mom! What’s an apparition?” she yelled out to me. (Keep in mind she was almost ten years older than the oldest boy.)

They all entered the house, kissed me, sometimes argued, sometimes pulled pranks, but always went to sleep in their own beds, safe, well-fed, exhausted, eager to face the next day.

Now the house feels empty. One teenager lives in the house, though not one of the original three children who grew up here. The youngest of the Three Stooges, my nickname for my children, has already died and the other two live in separate cities. If I put my car keys on the dining room table and come back two hours later they are still there. If I buy three boxes of cookies at the market only one box gets eaten the same day I bring them home. I thought I would enjoy this time in my life but in all honesty, it’s just plain weird. The years went past way too fast for my liking.

I mow the lawn. I plant seeds and plants. I hoe, I mulch, I cultivate. I tenderly pluck withered petals from the roses and attack weeds around my flowers as if they were burglars invading my home. My flowers beds are lush, filled with green plants and potted flowers. I tend to them with love and dedication just as I once tended to my children.

I placed the rusted coffee can and all of the contents back into the ground for someone else to find sometime in the future. I will keep the memories it brought back to me safe within my heart. Life is really a tapestry of moments shared and moments spent wishing you were sharing them. I just wish I had more time to spend on weaving an even more elaborate tapestry.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

6/02/2010