Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Memoir and small things

More on memoir and on small things. I’ve been off blog visiting. The oft-quoted here Susan Albert at Lifescapes discusses smallest things—the importance of the tiny things in her outsized countryside of Texas. She shares a picture of a tiny lichen.
I referred a Massachusetts friend to the site. She replies with enthusiasm. Her neighbor is a lichen expert—showing I suppose that among other small things is the world.
Susan’s picture sent me back into the garden camera in hand. Instead of stepping back from my glorious plum tree, I moved in closely and saw a whole new world. Made a new friend while I was doing it.
Tiny things are important not just in nature. I’m nibbling away at working on my childhood memories. I’ve chose the summer I turned eleven. It was a summer of decision for my family, particularly for my writer-dad. I find if I focus on tiny details—what did we eat, what books did I read, movies did I see (easy Show Boat-over and over), what did that lonely rent house look like—then I see the bigger picture more clearly. The story I want to tell, the story that wants to be told emerges.
I’m looking for help on the details. I went to the library and read ancient Time magazines, bought a cd of the great hits of 1951, and asked my sister. I was eleven that summer, she was fifteen. What different worlds we lived in! But as we talk (“I didn’t know that!” I exclaim, and a few minutes later she echoes me) we are pleased to fine that while the tiny things differ, we are together on much. We are talking about things we’ve never discussed before.
That is no small thing.
Neither is the help Susan Albert gave me. She’s a good teacher and taught me how to insert a proper link. Here’s the way to get to Story Circle Network and read Susan’s great talk! http://www.storycircle.org

No more promises--spring is here

The last day of the month; tomorrow March will roar or gentle in. Supposing it will be like today, I’m looking for lamb-like. Here in South Georgia we don’t have to wait until March 21 for spring. It’s no longer just a promise; it is pounding at my study door insisting that I step outside.
The earliest flowering tree to appear in our acre and a half is the flowering plum. The first blossom peaked out about four weeks ago only to be frightened back by our first and only hard frost of the year. Over the last week, the tree has come into her own, as the two pictures show, and she is joined around the garden by Japanese magnolia and redbud. The birds are waking earlier and singing a little more cheerily. They are as happy to see young Spring as I am.
That's our vernacular farmhouse bungalow in the background. The house started out as a four-square farmhouse in 1910. In the early thirties, the Elcan family added the porch and doubled the size of the house. In 1997, we added a masterbed. It is certainly the little house that grew.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Love blows in on the Llano Estacado

February 25, 1956—Amarillo, Texas, fifty years ago today. The drought-ridden Llano Estacado had tried to blow itself away the day before. The dust storm had raged and ravaged until well past midnight. I’d been out in it on a date. Got home late. Mother was mad. I was fifteen.
Fifteen, and supposed to go to a debate tournament in Lubbock after the excitment of the night before. I was due at the coach’s house about 15 minutes ago, at 5:30 a.m. Mother wanted me to skip it. I was so sick—I sounded like a bull frog. But no. A debater doesn’t let her partner down.
I hopped out of our car into Mrs. Hall’s and almost onto the lap of this senior boy. He looked at his watch. Mighty cute that Bob Pando.
By Plainview, it was plain to me. He says he knew sooner, he liked the way I sounded.
Bob and Trilla as Amarillo High School Sandie Seniors. 1956 and 1957.
25 years later—on the town in Houston

Friday, February 17, 2006

Stories from the heart

Stories from the Heart, for the third time the women of Story Circle Network (http://www.storycircle.org/) joined to share their stories at a weekend conference in Austin the first weekend in February. It provided such inspiration that I had to mull a while before writing about it. Well over 100 women joined in. We wrote, we read, we listened.
Why tell your stories? One red cowgirl-hatted widowed grandmother lugged a huge book she’d prepared for her family and her family alone. It begins with story of her parents’ romance and ends with an account of her ballroom dancing exploits with her new “best friend.” Others have are writing their stories as memoirs for publication (many have already been published) or are crafting their experiences into fictions. As many reasons as the many women.
We focused on strength and truth—how telling the truth gives a woman strength and how strong women do not step away from telling the truth.
Timely, indeed, for truth-telling has been much in the news in recent days with the long discussions of what is a memoir, what is fiction, what is memory? Our memories are our own. No one else can change them. Through the years I’ve almost joked, almost fought with my sister about our differing memories of the same events. We’ve finally called truce realizing that these two people have different—but still true—stories.
The fine climax of the Conference was Susan Albert’s final talk about strong women and tale-telling. She took a deep, wonderful and strong approach—sharing her own truth. And she keeps on sharing. There is a link to the speech on the Story Circle website. Scroll down the left side index until you find it—it’s under “Who We Are.” Then post a comment here! Trilla and Susan are sharing coffee and stories in the picture.
I’ll be writing more about truth-telling and memory. I promised myself that I’d start a childhood memoir as soon as I got home. I did! And already, I’m facing some of those hard issues.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

more promises of spring

We’ve had our winter cold. For us, 28 degrees is chilling. My much loved winter coat, a reminder of a splendid trip to Argentina, gets her biennial outing. And while we stepped out in the cold to join friends for a Valentine/birthday dinner, we had guests in the house. I shared my study with the cold sensitive blood orange—already putting out its spring leaves—here Dotty-the-cat guards it.
In spite of the freezing weather, the early jonquils continue to brighten the days. The azaleas are promising an early spring.
I’ve been home from Austin and the inspiring Stories from the Heart Conference of Story Circle Network. It has been much on my mind, but not yet in my writing. I promise myself a posting by this day’s end musing on truth, life and telling the truth about our lives.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tangle of spring

Just a week later, the first day of February—here’s the same Japanese magnolia tree load with blooms in a tangle of spring.
It’s about the same every year, we say, “it’s early this year!” Still, there are always magnolias around the first of February. I found a few azaleas peeking out in the driveway. But the real sure sign of an early season—Bob came in with a finger full of yellow pollen from our first-growth long-leaf pines. This is at least two or three weeks early.
I am off for Texas and the Story Circle Conference. I’ll go to a blogging panel. I’m planning to come home with many new ideas and resolutions. Not to mention more tangles of blossoms!