Archive for April, 2019

Don’t Be a Dumb Bee



I’m about to date myself. Just clacking that phrase onto the empty page is weird. Sounds like I’m getting ready to take myself out to dinner and a movie. And truth be told, a lot of my expressions probably reveal my age anyway. I mean, who says and truth be told these days?

But back to the subject, which is Romper Room. This classic children’s television program first hit the airwaves in 1953 and was aimed at teaching preschoolers to be good little citizens—all part of a lost culture not to be found in mainstream children’s programming today. It must have been effective, because certain elements of the program remain engraved in my memory.

There was the changing roster of former teachers—Miss Nancy, Miss Francis, Miss Bonnie—who, surrounded by a gaggle of in-studio tots, peered through a Magic Mirror to “see” and name specific children in the viewing audience. Other daily staples included The Pledge of Allegiance, stories imbued with moral messages, games, exercises, background music from Mr. Music, and milk and cookie time, always preceded by a short table prayer. (Sigh.)

Hovering over these activities was Mr. Do-Bee, a freakishly oversized striped insect who delivered messages with such scintillating lyrics as:

Do be a sidewalk player, Don’t be a street player; Do be a car sitter, Don’t be a car               stander; Do be a plate cleaner, Don’t be a food fussy; Do be a play safe, Don’t be a match toucher.               

Simple but sensible. I know I took this stuff pretty seriously at age four.

Jump ahead to 2019, when a little simple but sensible would be refreshing. I’ll cite two recent examples.

January 12, Layton, Utah. A 17-year-old pulls her beanie cap over her eyes in blind obedience (forgive the pun) to the internet-promoted Bird Box challenge based on the apocalyptic Sandra Bullock thriller about a mysterious force that must not be looked upon at risk of death.

Well, talk about risking death. The girl crashed her pickup truck into another vehicle. Who’d of thunk? Obviously not this teen. Nor the dozens of others who joined the same craze after 22-year-old YouTube celebrity Jake Paul walked across a busy Los Angeles street while blindfolded, because, hey, what could go wrong?

But it’s not only generation z-types modeling insane behavior.

March 10, 2019. A 30-something woman climbs over a safety fence at Arizona’s Wildlife World to take a selfie with the zoo’s resident jaguar. She survived, but this stunt cost her claw gashes to one arm, an ambulance trip to the hospital, and some public disdain.

“When people do not respect the barriers, there’s always a chance there might be a problem,” said a zoo spokesperson. Uh, duh?

Society has always produced daredevils, of course. In the computer age, our ability to interconnect can quickly become either an international stupidity virus or a global object lesson: Don’t be a Dumb Bee. Let’s all hope for less of the former and more of the latter.

April 13, 2019 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Found Poetry

field of daisies photo-1496483648148-47c686dc86a8

I once took a class on journal writing at The Loft, a local literary hot spot. In this casual coffee house-like setting, Natalie Goldberg–guru to contemporary poets and aspiring writers alike–offered insights into finding inspiration in novel places and everyday experiences.

Eyes newly opened to focus on my surroundings, I approached my writing differently from then on. Maybe I’m just lazy at heart, but the concept of “found poetry” particularly fascinated me.

Fast-forward a few decades and I have inherited reams of saved papers bequeathed by parents and parents-in-law. This has been both a challenge and a blessing. But I encourage anyone in a similar situation to be on the lookout for creative treasures tucked among the old bank statements and titles to homes long since deserted by your ancestors. Gems from yesteryear often hide among those cracked and yellowed sheets of vellum.

As I peer out my window this early April morning, my view resembles soggy tundra more than a field of daisies. However the following unearthed bit of literary sunshine written by my paternal grandmother over 100 years ago has warmed my day and tickled a smile into place on my winter-wearied face. Hope it does the same for you.

The Heart of Spring by Dorothy Helene Young, May 21, 1916 (Age 16)

The promise of morning is in the spring night
At the edge of the world is a blue gleam of light
On the top of the hill in the rosy hued dawn
Pan pauses a moment – pipes – and is gone

On such a sunny morning when the clouds float soft and high
And the lark’s song is sweet in sounding and the dew is scarcely dry
The marshy lowland’s glimmer and the uplands sweet with rain
Are lying bright and silver in the springtime sun again

Spring shows its garlands wondrously, its fairy breezes sigh
The wood is cool and deep and still where velvet shadows lie
The leaving trees are fresh and green and the sap runs swift and high
“This is the truest life of all” is the heart’s joyous cry

Spring calls to me, “Come back again, thou wanderer to thy mates
Thy destiny is woven in the thread of the three fates”
But though I live at the edge of the road, in a house with an open gate
I am chained here by other ties, thy summons comes too late

April 5, 2019 at 11:11 pm 1 comment

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