dpchallenge: Moved by Music

My mother listened to the Nutcracker Suite/but she wanted to be a flapper.

That’s how one of my poems begins. The Nutcracker Suite was a part of our Christmases for as far back as I can remember. Unfortunately, since it was an every-year thing and a part of our life, I never thought to ask here why. Why did a Kansas small town girl learn to love that particular piece of music? We forget to ask our elders a lot of things and then suddenly, or not suddenly, it’s too late to ask.

Of course, the Nutcracker Suite also means ballet. I began ballet lessons when I was in my mid-thirties so it goes without saying it wasn’t a career move for me, but I did love dancing.

My mom and dad married because of music and dancing. A year after my father died, Mom went with friends to the Cahon Ballroom in Marysville, Kansas (no doubt I’ve misspelled Cahon), a place all of us of a certain age frequented at one time or another although now it’s gone. They’d dated many years earlier, before she married my father, and so when he walked in the door, she recognized him immediately. They danced once, talked the rest of the time, and married six weeks later.

Except for my early teen years, music, itself, was never central to my life although dance is central and it’s hard to dance without music. In my teen years it was Doo Wop and Elvis and Frankie Avalon. I had the room in the attic peak of the house after my sister went to college and I can’t remember that room without seeing a can-can in the corner. I learned to starch them with strong sugar water and stand them in the bathtub to drain. There was no hanging them up. Sticky though on a hot summer evening.

This photo is thanks to Living-Fifties-Fashions. That site brought back weekend nights when I had no date and morosely stared out the bedroom window to avoid seeing it in the corner, as lonely as I was. And no doubt listening to Elvis.Pink_Crinoline_CanCan

But the site also reminded me of “poodle skirts.” My sister and I both had one of those. We sewed them in 4-H from pre-printed fabric. Now that was something to dance in.

My husband dances too–he grew up on the polka as well as dancing to rock ‘n roll. We have a dance floor here in the living room at one end, an open space just big enough to do several polka turns or a line of “The Slide.” I’ve tried to teach him the grapevine but he’s better at the polka. And as long as he doesn’t let me fall over, I can keep up with him. He hasn’t let me fall yet.

So there’s my moves to music: jitterbug and swing and ballet and polka. And The Slide. And every Christmas we listen to the Nutcracker Suite.

If you want to write your own “Moved by Music” click on the link below.

Yes, it really is…..

I woke early this morning feeling oddly awake. No aches. No stumbling weariness.  I thought it time to post a blog.

Writing has been – well, iffy, lately. Oh, I’ve been working at it: outlining journals from twenty-five years ago for a memoir; reading, filling my writing desk with Post-It notes and pieces of paper. Writing opening chapters have wandered as this post is wandering and have been cut and rewritten and taken apart and put back together again. And I was thinking, this morning, how much easier writing a novel might be than writing memoir as I do.

With novels, it seems to me, you only need your head. Easy. Well. That could be a problem too given how foggy my head has been these last few months. And my friend Theresa does a lot of research for her historical novels. Okay. Scratch novel-writing.

Maybe life has been on the chaotic side for everyone pretty much.

deskAnd yes, this really is what my writing area looks like and not a staged photo to say “writer’s room.” Mis-ordered chaos. Which is to say, I sort of know which pile to look in when I’m searching for something but not always.

What have I been doing all this time besides stumbling around? Writing grants. I’ve done that. Been to a lot of board meetings for Whispering Prairie Press because I involved in us in this whole process of moving ahead – somewhere – and to move ahead you need money and to get money, you write grants. So I guess I have been writing in one way or another.

Cliff and I have traveled. We drove to the Ozarks for a wonderful weekend and officiated at a wedding. We officiated at another wedding in early September north of Kansas City.  And I went up to Marshall County and met contractors to put an addition on the farm and to set up an artist residency for January (not on the farm, in Marysville). And last week, we went to Baltimore for my husband’s thirty-fifth anniversary of ordination and after that, went out to Ocean City for three days and stopped. Well, we walked a lot and that’s not exactly stopping, but every morning this was the view off our balcony.

oceanYes, it really was that beautiful.

Okay. So grants and travel. I guess that helps me feel a little less AOL.

I can’t say I’ve done a lot of house cleaning although over the summer, we did accomplish a fair amount of repair work on the house and refinanced.

And in May my book of poetry reached a reality between covers (in other words, published) and the months leading up to that filled with revisions and proofing and re-proofing and choosing covers and and and. Having a book published is every writer’s dream but when you get to it, whew! It’s a lot of work that swallows up days.

I seem to be going backwards in time to piece it all together.

“Know thyself” is a great idea in theory, but usually the knowledge comes in bits that you have to assemble like a picture puzzle when the top-of-the-puzzle-box-picture is missing. Or the picture changes. The structure to Knowing is less than clearly delineated.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond #3

I have one more “beyond” photo to share. This one the mock-up cover of my book of poetry which will be published by Finishing Line Press in May and which arrived this week for my approval.

There’s many instances of beyond behind this cover. One is the photo itself which I took one day while out driving back roads. If you look closely, you’ll see a horse at the far edge of the pasture, almost beyond sight. But the other beyond is the content. The book includes poems I wrote shortly after returning to Kansas in 1999, my mother coming back after I did, her death, the death of two close friends after that (death being the great beyond), and at last, Cliff and my marriage which is beyond anything I expected.

I’m happy about this book. And the step that takes me beyond the place of being published but not having a book of my own–and having one. “One more step along the way,” some wise young men once sang.  (PS: there’s a lot of white space at the top of the cover so you have to go beyond that to see the photo!! See what “beyond” leads me to?)

Sunderland_Janet cov FIN (2)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

Small town Kansas, pretty much every day of the week. This particular hitching rail and saloon is in Summerfield, Kansas where I happened to go to high school. Which may explain my love of cities!