Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thin
A small tear
Green
Dark and lush
Broad
The size of a palm
Covering
Raindrops roll off


Shelter
It blocks out the sun
Food
A caterpillar nibbles
Rest
For a weary grasshopper
Growth
As its veins run long
Life
Tis a part of a cycle


- THE LEAF

WORDS ON A PAGE

One day, I was thinking of all the different ways to capture (hold) one moment forever - inspired by Rogue ...

The words seemed to just drop unto the page without any deliberation or thought in my head... then a phrase continued to resound ... Words on a page!


Dreams
Images
Words on a page

Sketches
Paintings
Words on a page

Murals
Mosaics
Words on a page

Photographs
Lyrics
Words on a page

Poetry
Prose
Words on a page

Pottery
Sculptures
Words on a page

Film
Projections
Words on a page

Pixels
Focus
Words on a page

Visions
Imagination
Words on a page

Cartoon
Collages
Words on a page

Videography
Cinematography
Words on a page


Sunday, November 22, 2009

SOUNDS

The air conditioner rattles away on low cool.
The motor of the small fridge hums nonstop all day; every day.
The gentle tapping of the keyboards as I put my thoughts into prose.
A car pulls away from the office block in which I sit;
the main gates to the yard creak open to let it by.
A faint knocking on the clinic front door, then a louder knocking on another door as the owner of the knuckles searches a means to enter.
A tiny jingle alerts me to a message on my screen,
just as a cell phone sings its tune.
A discussion with a friend with a heavy European accent.
Then all goes quiet as the power shuts off suddenly and blackness envelopes me.
A moment goes by when I could have heard a pin drop.
Now the revving up of the computer as it boots up again.
The air conditioner comes on again, and the fridge picks up its tune.

A Blur

I sit here dwelling on the past few months. Its all been a blur. Started a volunteer position and then got an offer from an old job. Just settling into a new life, and new routine, when there's an interruption in rhythm. Stress everywhere. The phone's been down for weeks and I feel isolated. No internet either so disconnected from the world. Too much boiling inside of me. A to-do list pending for months now. My partner in his own world and unconcerned. Not connected. Alone. Lonely. Enfin, I get my driving license but days later I'm hurrying to catch a plane. My darling hustled my bags along and at the gate the tears began. Sadness, relief, anxious anticipation. Did I run away from a stressful life... perhaps. But moreso, I ran towards a necessary bridge that would link me to my future. I cross one last gate into the baggage claim area, about forty hours later, on another continent- crowds bursting with excited energy and activity. Foreign languages graze my ears as my mind tries to catch up with the present. I want to speak and I know not to use English; but instead Arabic or Igbo words try to tumble out. Its all a jumble in my head. The languages. The rhythm. My life. Yes, its all been a blur.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Kid And The Coat

You know those puffy jackets that are made for extreme cold weather… with small squares designed to trap air in a bid to offer maximum insulation to the wearer? The ones worn by skiers on mountain slopes, or scientists headed for the research station in Antarctica? Yes, those ones that make one look as round as the Michelin man. Well, I saw one of those coats today. Not a big deal you might think, but for some reason it was a big deal. For some reason the image of that coat stuck out like a sore thumb. Well, let me tell you why. It was a big deal because I saw that coat here, right here in the middle of the center of the African continent; in a province known to be one of the hottest in this country. I saw it the other morning on a little child no more than five years old. He (or she - babies have the same face and with such short hair, who but the mother can tell?) stood there, with his back to me on the street, in this light-coloured coat and nothing else on. Barefeet and all. I stifled a laugh and then wondered a long time about this kid and the coat.

FACES

A sea of African faces...
Some of them so young;
They might have never seen the sea
or ever heard the waves.
Born in this Sahara village
out in the middle of nowhere
desert sands stretching
for miles and miles -
endless...

LJ
18112009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bits 'n' Bobs

Hi all,

Thanks for sticking with me. I loved your comments for sure. I've found out that, for some reason yet unknown to me, I can sneak into Blogspot on Sundays. Of course it takes hours for the site to open (no exageration) but its better than nothing. I've missed all your posts and so I am happy that I can come into the office and catch up with all your news on Sunday evenings. Needless to say, I have no social life here. I go from home to work, then back home again. There's lots to share. Right now I'm still house hunting. Found a lovely new house but no regular power and so I hesitate to take it. Maybe I'm being fussy, but I love to read and I refuse to invest in the 'wahala' (in Nigerian broken English, wahala means 'trouble') of owning a generator. So, I wait for my miracle ... a small apartment close by work with somewhat regular electricity.

Shall I make you laugh? I got my work car, and then got my work driving license, and the car sits outside my office every day. One day I'll have to start using it, I suppose. The truth is simply that there are so many pedestrians and motorcycles and bicycles on these predominantly tiny, narrow, hilly roads that I can't imagine adding my four-wheeler to that mix. Oh Lord, I pray for courage. Even to walk about scares me. The first day I ventured deep into the market with trusted coworkers, it was harrowing. I was nearly knocked down by a bicycle. He literally missed me by centimeters and had the nerve to yell angrily in French, or was it Lingala ... maybe Swahili. I was too busy trying not to be run over that I missed what language he was speaking.

Ah, adventures that can only be found in Africa... and Asia... and the Middle East, and lots of other places actually. In spite of my adjustment issues, it is a great experience and I'm getting settled. My French is improving forcefully, but thanks to my French teacher back in high school (Mrs. Idu at Kent College- she'd be so proud of me), I can remember quite a lot. I understand quite a bit and read easily, but need help with conversation. Alors, any French speakers out there? I salute you all. Golly, anyone who speaks more than one language is actually very clever.

Donc, mes amis, c'est tout pour ce moment mais avez vous une bonne semaine [so, my friends, that's all for the moment but you have a good week]! I gotta get a ride home. Its almost 10pm and its back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bonsoir Tout Le Monde

Hi everyone,

Gosh it has been ages. This won't be long but I just managed to wriggle my way on this computer that has lots of sites blocked including blogspot. Somehow I stumbled upon it in some foreign language (Italian I guess), and it opened. Anyway, I am now half way across the world in Congo DRC. Google it and see. It has been an exciting 2 weeks so far and I'm sure I'll have plenty to share with you readers soon.

Ciao and stay blessed.
LJ

Monday, October 5, 2009

Worship is the answer

Wow, I've just been blessed by one of my sisters-in-law who greatly uplifted my spirits and shared an awesome testimony. Here's something she said ... a lovely insight...

I CAN BOLDLY DECLARE THAT PRAYER, PRAISE, WORSHIP ... WORSHIP ... WORSHIP IS THE ANSWER. WORSHIP QUIETS OUR SOUL, AND EMPOWERS US TO SEE THE BEAUTY INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE BEAST.

A big amen to that & you all have a wonderful week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Real Woman

I once wrote an essay titled "A Real Woman" for a Child & Adult Development class. In it I mentioned the differences between the sexes ... my personal perspective on an age-old subject. Of course some of you, men & women, Christian or not, might see it differently. Here is a quote from that essay:

" 'So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh' [Genesis 2v20-24].

God created the first male on the sixth day of His creation. Then on the seventh day He rested. I believe it was sometime after this that God carved out the first woman from the rib of that first man. Therefore man came first. Nevertheless God created man [male and female] in His own image, so men and women came from the same prototype – God Himself. God’s intention was to provide “woman” as a suitable helper to “man”, thus uniting them into one entity [Genesis 1v26-27; 2v20-24]."

Recently, at a women's conference at my church I heard it like this: Women do not need a man. We don't need a man to complete us. From that rib we were made ... a complete person, and therefore we can function alright all by ourselves. On the contrary, men have a missing rib. Thus, they need a woman to fill the gap. They need a woman to complete them. However, even though we, women, are complete, we were created for the primary purpose of being a helper to our men, specifically our husbands. The theme & title of the 3-day conference was Desperate Women [i.e. desperate for Jesus].

I encourage all you beautiful ladies out there to grow your self esteem and confidence because you are good all by yourself! Whether married, single, separated or otherwise, you are good all by your self. What you need is not a man to validate you [you ain't desperate like that], but for God to complete you [be desperate for God]. I believe that most men would prefer confident complete women to bless their lives. Again, this is just my personal take. Feel free to share your views and comments, and have a glorious weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Readers,

I am moved to share this with you. Although it mentions women, it truly applies to men also. Be blessed as you read it, and remember to pass on a blessing to others.

To all the "sisters" who I have known for a very long time and those who have only recently come into my life:


THIS SAYS IT ALL:


Time Passes ...



Life happens ...



Distance separates ...



Children grow up ...


Jobs come and go.
Love waxes and wanes.
Men don't do what they're suppose to do ...




Hearts break.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Careers end ...



BUT Sisters are there,
no matter how much time & how many miles are between you.
A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach ...




When you have to walk that lonesome valley & you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end ...




Sometimes they will even break the rules and walk beside you, or come in and carry you out. Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters ...



Daughter-in-laws, sisters, sister-in-laws, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!


The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other. Every day, we need each other still.








You are all very special to me!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Voice

How dare they?
Walked in and handcuffed me
Refused to listen to my pleas
Guilty until proven innocent!

How dare they?
Is the law for us or against us?
Tears on the face of loved ones.
Heads shaking, others looked on

How dare they?
Bound by men just like me.
And where was God?
Because I did nothing wrong.

How dare they?
Etched an image in my memory forever.
Distrust of men in uniform
Black, white, all alike.

How dare they?
Harvard professor & Sean Bell
Rodney King,
Now me

How dare they?
Caused me to anger and cry
Let me go without a word
Not an apology was heard

How dare they?
Showed me the ugly side of life.
I also am a man in uniform
But for a moment I was a man scorned.


A few weeks ago, this scenario played out in my life and I was deeply affected. Although the thoughts are mine, the handcuffed hands were not ... but I sat there and watched it all. Sad, alone, two hundred and sixty miles away from home. When it was all over, it felt like a strange dream. The experience taught me so much - God is an awesome deliverer!

Aloha

Hello everyone,

I would like to appreciate all my readers for being a part of A Voice On Fleming Road. Many of you have become cyber friends who encourage me and show concern for my personal affairs. It is so touching because a friend laughs when I laugh & cries when I cry and I feel that from you all. My sincere apologies for not yet responding to your most recent comments [Sarah, Darsden, CathM, RCUBEs, Christine, Peter ...]. I also acknowledge all new readers & followers to my blog - thanks for stopping by and for your lovely and kind comments. Please continue to follow as I hope to be back to blogging regularly as soon as life permits - lol!

There is so much to share, but let me leave you with a few photos for now...

Sailor, then and now ...

































... sister Sasha


















Remember my completed jigsaw puzzle? Well, I finally got that framed and it hangs on our study wall. When things get rough or I feel myself lacking motivation, a glance at my jigsaw reminds me that I will get through that tough spell. I completed most of that piece when confined to my home all weekend becuase of a health problem- I survived it! A new puzzle brings excitement in spite of anticipated anxieties about how hard it might be and brief frustrations along the way - I finished it!


More of God's creatures ...




Remember these?
I'm still working to improve my amateur photography skills













You all have an awesome week :)
LJ


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Labor day weekend!

Dear Readers,

How has your year been thus far? Gosh, what a year it has been on my side of the world. My life seems to have run away with me and the last couple of months have been rather unsettling, in the sense that unexpected events continue popping up and catching me well off guard. My goodness! [I really do not like surprises or sudden changes in plan or direction (i.e. upheavals - lol).]

Now though, I hear God saying to me: Hold on, for these storms won't last forever. As the thunder cracks, the lightening flashes and the rains pour. I remain in the safety of my home, unafraid and know that the weather will improve. I command God's peace to be still, then settle down to wait it out. Before long dawn arrives, bringing calm in its wake ... broken branches and trees reminding me of what occurred the previous night. Since being in Georgia, I have experienced many small isolated thunder storms. Each time, the next day's news reports the damage that was done and I realize how lucky I was. In my spiritual life I have faced many storms too. Remaining in the security of God, I have waited it out and watched the spiritual climate change. This is my testimony:- I am still here.

Friends, for those of you passing through a tough spell, be encouraged. Hold on for life will get better. For others who are having a good season right now, be grateful and do not take things for granted. Thank God for every good thing. Have a glorious Labor day weekend!

LJ


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sisters ...


This is a salute to all sisters (and brothers), whether real siblings or just people we consider as
the friend that sticketh closer than a brother [Proverbs 18:24]. Reference is made to my blog post dated June 11, 2009 and titled Give Me My Flowers While I Am Alive. It came to mind as I prepared to write this post.

As you know from the aforementioned post, I have a real sister [CathM], but I also have lots of other sisters. Childhood friends who have known me all their lives. A younger sister- a dear girl whom I got close to while living in Nigeria. A big sister- who opened her home to me and invited me into her family in NJ. Close friends the world over who took me as their younger sister- 2 wonderful nurses and a doctor in Nigeria; a lovely nurse from Cameroon & one from Liberia; my coworkers in Liberia. The list goes on & on. Truly I have been blessed because wherever God has placed me, He has sent the right people my way. Nothing is a coincidence or accident, and I believe that our paths have crossed by divine plan. Even you, my readers & fellow bloggers, our paths have connected in cyber space for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Today I realized that God has done it again. He has sent 5 wonderful ladies into my life. In the past, when I thought about beautiful black women, my mind would go to the likes of Cece Winans, Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, etc. One day I read a presentation on Strong Black Women and remembered the women in my life. My mother, my sister, these are great examples of beautiful women I esteem highly. Now I add the 5 ladies I met at a church group. My spirit loved them from the first and I feel a spiritual connection. Each radiates an elegantly gentle and humble spirit, yet their inner strength and beauty is undoubted. In addition to these qualities, their individual experiences and Christian maturity make them attractive, inside & out, with smiles that come from the heart ... and if only you knew their generous nature. Mentors, role models, God strategically places people in our paths but many times they go unnoticed by us. We need to pay attention to the traffic in our lives and notice the people who come our way. Be kind to everyone we meet because God may have put us in their path for a purpose. Besides, what goes around sure comes around and the kindness would come back to us in some way.

Hebrews 13v2 reminds us
not to forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Be blessed & remember to be a blessing too!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

THE WOODPECKER


I sat there. Just sat there gazing through the window pane. Then I noticed him through an open window as he climbed slowly and steadily up a big tree trunk. His red head bobbed as he went along, bobbing up and down as he pecked. Occasionally he would pause as if to survey the lie of the land - the portion of tree bark he was working. Working, he was, yet some might say he was destroying. Yes, he was destroying the tree, attacking it and creating holes in the beautiful old pine trunk. He, on the other hand, must think that he was simply carving out a haven for himself ... taking refuge in an old tree.

I wrote this piece the other day. Posting it on my blog now makes me feel like I need to carve out a safe haven for myself in this topsy turvy world of mine. I long for a physical place of refuge. However, deep down inside me I know that God is my safe haven; my place of refuge; my rock and sure foundation. I pray that He keep us all safe, and hide us in His most secret place where we can rest as peace and love flow upon us without ceasing. Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2009

SLEEP


Hello Readers,


I sincerely apologise for my infrequent blog posts lately, and I truly appreciate your still visiting my blog. A lot of things have been going on in my personal life that made me quite weary, yet God gives me strength to go on. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. When you stumble, hold on lest you fall. But if life manages to knock you down, pick yourself back up and keep on going. It 'aint over until God says it's over. Have a blessed and restful weekend!

Here's a piece I found among some old notes of mine from last year [raw unedited version] ...

My eyes begin to cry
Why cry?
Slowly the glands open their dams and the rivers of tears unleash
As the eyelids flutter and the yawns begin their rhythm
Faster now, yet faster, one yawn becomes another and the eyes feverishly fight to close
The mind still alert yet slowed far below operational levels
The adrenaline kicks in and she goes into panic mode
Oh yeah, I am so sleepy
Oh no, tiredness has set in and now who knows?
Shall the mind still be able to control her thoughts ... her words
REM will take the final frontier
Easy now, watch what you say
Answer no more questions lest the truth of your heart be known to the stranger far across the seas
Indeed, REM - the last frontier - I concur
In the ubiquity of slumber she shall rest
Drifting off as he appears in her dreams.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Appointment With Death


I traveled up to NC for a funeral last Friday. The minister reminded us that death is the one appointment that we will not be late for or forget to show up at. He called it a divine appointment. An appointment with death. Old, young, rich or poor; when death comes knocking there is no where to run to and no where to hide. The bible says that it is appointed once for man to die. A time to be born and a time to die. I ponder these things. The mystery of life. I wonder ...



A country lane
A fish pond
An old man and woman
Married fifty years

A funeral
The procession
Brave faces and tears
An appointment with death

Grandchildren
Great grans
Hustle and bustle
Families gather for comfort

Soul food
Sausage and grits
Hash browns and ham
Home cooked cuisine

Memories
What might have been
No warning sign
No hint of tomorrow

Darkened face
Still as stone
No memory left
So much left undone

Serene
Refreshing
Fresh dew upon the earth
The early morning sunrise

Life
Ours to go on
I return to my world
Until the last breath is done

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jack & Jill - Jael

Hello again readers, this is a continuation of an earlier piece titled Jack & Jill - The Move. This time it is narrated by Jill.

The US Airways flight 415 touched down in Phoenix at exactly six thirty-nine in the evening. The temperature was 75 F and the time on the huge digital clock mounted in the baggage claim lounge read 19:20. I located a trolley and moved to position myself near the origin of the conveyer belt. This airport is so ultramodern. On my way to get my bags I had passed the WELCOME TO PHOENIX sign overhead and a beautiful large eagle crest etched into the flooring, enclosed within a circle meant to be a compass pointing out North, South, East and West. It looked real nice. There are lots of other cool digital displays and the signs had enabled me to navigate the airport easily. Lots of new construction had been undertaken over the last few years and I contemplated checking out the new car rental terminal. A lovely older gentleman who'd sat next to me on the plane had told me about it; the biggest of its kind in Arizona (and maybe in the whole country). He had said it was close by and I needed a car anyway to get to Avondale which was less than a half hour away. Spying some neat shops, I realized that I had eaten very little all day. I walked over to one and bought a snack- a packaged tuna sandwich and a bottle of vitamin water. It would do for the moment. As I got back to the conveyer belt, I noticed my bags had been pulled off to the side. Without a thought as to why, I loaded my trolley and moved toward the seats to gather myself and eat.

Jael, honey, I've missed you. I nearly jumped out of my skin and my water was knocked off its precarious perch on my suitcase. Jack quickly reached for it and spared my denim skirt from getting as soaked as it might have been otherwise. Hi. What on earth are you doing here? I thought you were having a late meeting out of town? Jack embraced me in a tight bear hug and kissed my face. You look gorgeous and that silk green blouse is perfect on you. The colour makes your eyes sparkle. Sandwich still in hand, I managed to hug him back with my one free hand. He looked good too. He had on a striped mauve and white jumper over a pair of new blue jeans. He looked like a magazine model and I often wondered why he had never considered modeling. He was smiling and right then I felt in my spirit that all my fears were unfounded. He was a good man. This was a good decision. I loved him. I excused myself from the meeting to surprise you, Jack finally answered. You sure did, you scared the daylights out of me, I retorted; you'd have missed me if I hadn't decided to eat before heading over to the car rental. He chuckled and got my things together. I hope you don't mind eating and walking at the same time? he asked politely. Not at all, I replied. His arm around my shoulders, the other pushing the trolley, we made for the nearest exit. By now it was almost eight thirty-five and I was pleasantly exhausted.

We arrived at Jack's home in Avondale just after nine. The house was gorgeous and I bet he used an interior decorator. You like?, he had one eyebrow raised and his dimples became more prominent. I love it, I said dramatically. This was an absolutely gorgeous single family home with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. It was a duplex, had a double garage and lots of space all around. All this for the unbeatable price of $50000, thanks to foreclosure. There was a huge tree at the front of the house, so close that one could actually climb it to enter one of the rooms on the top floor. The building was cream coloured with a soft pink hue.
Jack took me on a quick tour of the house. I could tell that he was also tired. Built in the 1980s, the entire interior had been further modernized. I admired the huge French windows in the living room that opened out on a small quaint veranda. The white wicker furniture with plush cushions were perfect here. The big kitchen window gave the most amazing view ... like a picture frame. Jack said that in the daytime one could see the park against a background of the mountain peaks. I saw the window seat in the dining area and decided that that would be my reading spot. It must have been awful for the previous owners to give it up. Jack went downstairs to heat up dinner while I took a shower and changed. Feeling so refreshed I joined him in the living room.

He had set up our meal in front of the television. Soft rock music played in the background and huge candles in the corner of the room had been lit. I was asked to have a seat while he brought out a bottle of vin blanc. Taking his seat opposite me, he said the grace and we began to eat. Jack was a great cook. He had spent a year working in Paris as a chef's apprentice, either after high school or after college. While he was expert at cooking and creating hotel-style cuisines, I stuck to perfecting my skills with home-cooked meals. We ate and talked. Hours later we called it a night and turned in. My first night in my new home with Jack. This was the beginning of our life together. Still, the anxieties remained and I was not sure why. However, somewhere in the back of my head I think I knew the answer and was simply afraid to admit it. Ah, all in God's time. I would try not to worry. Already I could hear Jack's even breathing which meant that he was fast asleep. I let my mind drift to thoughts of the future and the trip to Montgomery to see my host family- that was going to be fun because Missy and Carla would meet me there. Then I thought of all the things I needed to do the next day, making a mental list that seemed to grow longer and longer ... call grandpa and Missy; search for flights to Alabama; call Mr. Jameson to check on the status of my shipment; prepare for grad school and find out if Missy would also be at La Jolla; I certainly had enough to occupy my mind these first few days. All would be well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL

Dear Readers,

Awesome. I just finished watching a wonderful interview and highly recommend it to every one out there as a "must see". I expect that you can request a copy from your local PBS station or find it online. I worked in Liberia from 2004-2006, a country in West Africa that boasts the first female president in the history of the continent of Africa. An amazing story with amazing heroes. Check it out & you'll be glad that you did. It only takes someone ordinary to do something super-ordinary. Open your heart today and let God use you to move mountains and change lives and reshape the world into a better place. Let us all join hands and stand in prayers of agreement that we each will do our best to follow our heart and do the right thing because every little step counts. This has stirred up my spirit so strong this afternoon that I feel I could preach a sermon- lol! Be blessed as you watch the documentary film "Pray The Devil Back To Hell". It is about the Liberian struggle, when the mothers (local market women) rose up to declare that enough was enough. They fought for freedom.

Pray The Devil Back To Hell - a PBS television interview of Liberian Leyman Gbowee (she fought for freedom) and American Abigail Disney (she told the story of freedom). This topic is also presented by Bill Moyers on his web page: Bill Moyers Journal. Have a blessed week and do come back and share your feedback about the film. Thanks.

LJ



A Psalm of Life
What the heart of the young man said to the psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! --
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, -- act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Keep looking beyond tomorrow…
temptation whispers in ill-humored fashion.
Sand sifts smoothly through the hourglass
half full, half empty at the birth of twilight
and an eerie notion stills my heart.
Keep looking beyond tomorrow…
temptation now drones my name.
But sand has drifted in errant ways.
My path has steepened; I labor to climb.
Wind’s shifted north, I’m facing south
and pushing forth one inch at a time.
Keep looking beyond tomorrow…
temptation calls its wretched wish,
though I can’t see one grain of sand
past the one on which I stand.
Doubts pushing and pulling with equal force,
one step forward two steps back
till silence roars; temptation no longer calls.
Sand sifts quickly through the hourglass
half empty, half full at the birth of twilight
and a black moon eclipses the sun.


Carmen Ruggero ©2005



Friday, June 12, 2009

Musings In May

Dear Readers,
Hello and I hope you've all had a good month so far. This piece was written last month and I apologise for publishing it so late [I was waiting to upload more photos but my camera battery is acting up]. Well, lots happened in the past few weeks that caused me to be away from my blog quite a bit. Now I can't wait to catch up with all that I have missed on your blog posts and promise to respond to all your comments.




I went up to Massachusetts for my brother's graduation from Graduate School. It was a lovely 5 day trip and I traveled by train which afforded me time to write most of the pieces from The Train Ride to The Waterfront. My husband had driven me all the way to the station in the nearest big city. The train was three hours late arriving so I left Savannah around 0400h to DC; there I had about a 4h lay over and switched trains. The second train was much less comfortable than the first, and the reduced leg room was inconvenient. I got to Boston by eight o'clock in the midst of the morning hustle and bustle; tired. As often as I plan to travel light, I rarely ever seem to accomplish it. Struggling with bags, and following the hand-scribbled instructions in my pocket, I made my way to the Red line and got off at Harvard Square. There I walked a bit until I located the bus terminal where I was to wait for the 73. For some strange reason, sometimes you pay when you get on a bus and other times when you get off. I puzzled over this apparent flaw in the MBTA bus system for days, one that possibly makes sense to a certain breed of Bostonians but not to me. Sometimes you go to pay and the driver says "pay when you get off" and other times you walk in and have a seat only to see people behind you paying immediately. One evening when the bus carried a sparse population of passengers, I ventured to beg for clarity by asking the driver. He explained that you pay as you get off the bus only when you embark on an outbound bus from Harvard Square. Otherwise you pay when you get on the bus. How utterly confusing for newcomers to the city? Surely there must be an easier way ... just ask NYC. Anyway, the AMTRAK train journey was quite the twenty-four hour scenic route.

I arrived at my girlfriend's home as she was leaving for work. From there she would head to NC for a few days. So I had the house to myself- what glee! S' home has always been a safe haven in which to unwind and de-stress. It is like going for a retreat and checking in to a bed & breakfast. Heavenly. The spare room was made up for me, with towels, soap and a lovely lavender body lotion (by Clarence O. Bigelow) set aside for my use. Then there is the bathroom which is actually like a spa. The impressive array of face and body and hair and feet treatments, washes, cleansers, lotions, shampoos, etc. entices my senses every time. It was a joy to wake up with eager anticipation of the treat of a long shower each morning. Bliss. Then the kitchen, I mean cuisine, is so homely and inviting. Being a natural born cook, as is the rest of her family (including mom, sister and brothers), the kitchen lacked nothing. It is no wonder that I treasure my trips to Boston which never fail to leave me refreshed and rejuvenated. I can then return to my life, better able to cope and continue from whence I left off.


H's graduation week went well. I attended a dinner for students and their families the first evening. It was lovely. The day after, my brother and I spent time together in the city. Then on Saturday we visited a market in a posh part of town. It was great and I bought a huge container of the biggest, reddest and sweetest strawberries I have ever seen, for just $2. Awesome. I saw some lovely displays of garden herbs, a photographer's work, antiques and lots of other items. I bought some Rosemary tea and my brother got some lovely homemade cookies. Later we snacked on your all-American favourite, hotdogs and french fries. The fourth day was graduation day. I found out that transportation is difficult in that neighbourhood on Sundays. It took forever to get a taxi to the university. I finally went to the pay phone to call one and was told to call back in twenty-five minutes to see if one had become available. Imagine that! Golly gosh, where was I? I suddenly missed NYC's transportation system. Eventually I sighted a taxi and managed to flag him down. The pleasant older Lebanese driver proceeded to take me to the wrong school. Mildly anxious at this stage, I remained calm as he tampered with his GPS and soon we were headed for my brother's school, Brandeis. I made it into the hall just in time, laughing at the memory of the stern instructions to be seated at least a half hour prior to the start of the procession. The ceremony ended well, as did the day. My brother and I met up with S (now back from NC) and her brother to have dinner in honor of his recent achievement. He had done my whole family proud. Especially in light of the fact that after first semester, the student loan company canceled his loan because they were no longer offering personal loans (or something to that effect). Nevertheless, the good lord made it possible for my brother to stay in school and come out with great success. Praise God!

Upon my return home, another overwhelming event occurred. An earlier discussion had taken place where I had clearly stated that I have no desire for pets at this time. Firstly, I have never personally had to raise any animal so I would need to prepare my mind psychologically for it. Then I would want to start with something simple like goldfish. Plus, I have so much going on in my life that it would be a strain on me. Finally, I would get dumped with the task of taking care of the animal which I did not want. As words that fall on deaf ears are in vain, so my explanations were a waste. My husband came home one late night with a month-old puppy. A few days later he traveled and guess who was stuck with a pet and no clue what to do? My prayer was simple: God, please let not this puppy die. By His grace, Sailor is waxing strong today. I survived the five-day self-taught immersion crash course on Raising A Puppy Alone. I graduated but still have tons to learn :). While my husband was in SC for Memorial weekend, I had the house all to myself. Another gift of a "me" time from God. Besides tidying up the yard and getting the house cleaned, I spent time with my neighbour down the road and her children. It was nice to be able to operate at my own rhythm for a few days. Unlike my husband who always seems to be on the go and needs to be "up and doing", I tend to like a peaceful and tranquil existence. I love to work and be busy, but it needs to be busy helping people or doing my job as a doctor which gives me much joy, yet my innate tempo is on the slow quiet side ... curled up with a book, hours working at a jigsaw puzzle, gardening, a lazy long walk or short jog. It fascinates me how different people are. Whether naturally or as a result of learning or exposure, we become who we are.

Two days ago, I had a bit of a health problem. It was completely unexpected and for me who has generally been pretty healthy, it took an emotional toll. I tried to brave it for hours especially since I was at a loss as to what to do. An extreme feeling of anxiousness and confusion as the symptoms heightened caused me to finally ask my husband to take me to the Emergency Room. We must have gotten there about four or five o'clock a.m. and I was discharged after a few hours around nine.
I spent the entire weekend at home, receiving separate prescriptions for complete bed rest from my mom and aunt over the phone. Of course it drove me nuts to lie in bed all day. I had to get up and sit for a while, I dare confess, and even walk about the house a bit. I nearly completed a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, so you get an idea of how absolutely bored I was... lol. It is a lovely jigsaw that I bought at the Boston market from a couple who create the pictures themselves, then have them sent off to the factory to be made into jigsaws. Pretty cool process, huh?

Much later I realized that in actual fact I was depressed. Hmmm, this surprised me somewhat and ought not to have done so really. But of course, things tend to be different when they happen to "us" as opposed to "other people". Henceforth my empathy goes to patients who are prescribed "complete bed rest". It is easier said than done, doctor! I won't go into detail, but permit me to say that being unable to articulate my emotions and thoughts, this incident leaves me feeling a little numb and sad; bereft to be more precise. Perhaps at a later date I shall be able to process this entire experience psychically and move on. It can be a rather emotional ordeal yet the good lord remains our almighty physician. He is a healer [Exodus 15v26] and maketh all things beautiful in His time [Ecclesiastes 3v11]. Some illnesses are not unto death, but for the glory of God [John 11v4]. God has a purpose and a plan in every event, and I look forward to discovering the blessing in this incident. After the initial weakness and shock, and in spite of the intense pain that racked my body, all I could do was pray and praise [Acts 16v25-26] for I knew that what the enemy intended as harm, the lord shall use for my good.

Today I watched an awesome ministration by Pastor Schreve on "marriage". I caught it by chance and was glad that I did. Extremely insightful and invaluable information for all married folk and anyone who might be contemplating marriage any time in the future (lol). Check it out at FromHisHeart.org. Well, I just thought to share the recent goings-on in my personal life. Many-a-time it is therapeutic for me to do so and it might possibly also encourage or touch someone else out there. I wish you all a wonderful week as we leave May behind. Summer is in the air; let us all welcome June with open arms, fresh hope and reaffirmed security that our future will be brighter than our past. Afterall, God is in control and I admonish us all to stay focused and keep the faith because the best is yet to come:)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Give Me My Flowers While I Am Alive

I've often wondered about "soul mates" and what that really means. Somehow I concluded that a soul mate is like one's other half. All my life I have had a soul mate. Someone with whom I get along even through the rough times. Someone with whom I have shared secrets and for whom I have kept secrets. Someone who has been there since the day I was born. Someone I looked up to over the years and admired. Someone who set the pace and I followed in her footsteps. Someone who calls to check on me and offer sound advice. Someone who encourages me in my walk with God. Someone who has overcome grave trials and tribulation yet carries on and continues the fight called life. Someone who is always smiling even when her heart is heavy. Someone who is a wonderful inspiration in all that she does. Someone who is gifted in many ways and has so much to offer the world including her experiences. A gentle soul who is so wise beyond her years. A lovely spirit filled with so much goodness. Kind, caring, compassionate, dear and a true sweetheart. I have loved her; cried with her and laughed with her. Yes, truly I have a soul mate. She is my dearest, oldest and closest friend and she is my big sister. Some of you fellow bloggers know her as CathM and undaunted I do declare that she is simply the best. An aunt of mine always says "give me my flowers while I am still alive" and finally I get it.

Have a glorious weekend everyone, and may the good Lord show Himself to us in a big way this coming week ... in Jesus' precious name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Excerpt I

Dear Readers,
I have decided to pen down some excerpts that develop in my head as they develop. One day they might be incorporated into full stories. In this case the whole story outline is already trying to form in my head. Here is the first one and I do hope you enjoy it ...

Her feet moved so slowly as she walked. Her hair hung over her face, matted by sweat and her tears. As she passed the lamp post the light caught the silhouette of a troubled soul. Just then it began to rain. For each rain drop that landed upon her, a tear rolled down each cheek. Lightening struck and thunder cracked. Her sobs grew louder and more intense. Her eyes continued to look at the ground unseeing. Puddles were forming all around her, coalescing into large pools of water. Absent-mindedly she crossed the side streets until she reached another street corner. The big clock above the gas station sounded the hour. It was ten o'clock at night and she was on her way home. A place that had become more of a prison than a home. A place where her freedom was denied her and she felt like a puppet on a string. At times she was merely a robot or zombie doing things automatically with no feeling or thought involved. Where was God? He who promised that He would never leave her nor forsake her and would be her helper [Hebrews 13v5-6]? He who said He was not a man that He should lie [Numbers 23v19]? He who said to call upon Him in her time of trouble [Psalm 50v15]?

Suddenly, she noticed that it was not raining on her but it still rained a few feet ahead. A gust of wind blew, so forceful that she fell to her knees. In a crack in the wall of the building on her left, she saw a light like that from a candle. It was a tiny flame yet produced such brilliant white light that she turned away a few times. Mesmerized, she stared at this light as it increased in brightness unsure of its source. Then the flame rose up the wall and following it with her eyes, she got to her feet. The light moved and she walked alongside it, being careful to keep it in view. It continued raining several feet in front of her and all around but not above her. After a few blocks the light disappeared and she found herself standing outside a huge Catholic church. Without thinking, as if in a dream, she walked up the three steps and pushed open the large wooden doors. She walked down the aisle and sat in the very first pew. An empty sanctuary. Alone and scared. The sobbing started again and the flame returned. Sensing a presence, she looked around but saw no one. She prayed and cried and sobbed. Finally she fell asleep where she sat.

Someone was tapping her hand gently when she awoke. The young man sat beside her and asked if he could help her. Kindness and love radiated from his face and she felt so sad. She had married a man who was stingy, selfish and drank himself drunk coming home in the wee hours of the morning. What she could not understand was why God did not change him? Yes sir, she replied eventually. You can help me. You can tell me why God won't change my husband and make him generous and make him stop drinking and staying out all night. The young man smiled and simply said, "all in God's time sister; all in God's time." He prayed with her for a long time and spoke kindly to her of hope and patience and love. She was reminded of the God of the Impossible as well as the Ghanaian word, Sankofa, meaning to take from the past what is good and bring it into the present to make meaning of one's life. It took her about thirty minutes to get home and find that her husband was not back yet. He walked in ten minutes later without so much as a greeting. God would get her through this new day and she would praise Him anyway. This experience was changing her forcefully. God was clearly working on her and she knew she'd become a much better person at the end of this season of her life. She accepted this as the words of Proverbs 3v11-18 came to mind ...

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pain
Severe
This looks grave

Endurance
Fortitude
A face so brave

Symptoms
Worsening
Something wrong

Fear
Panic
Hours too long

Emergency
Labs
News not good

Doctors
Meds
Depressive mood

Clouds
Dark
Hovering too near

Reassurances
Condolences
None could I hear

Back
Another clinic
Emotions spill

Kindness
Everyone
Tears begin to well

Fatigue
Over
Strength regained

Support
Love
These remain

*TOUGH TIMES DON'T LAST
BUT TOUGH PEOPLE DO!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Waterfront

Dear Readers,
I thought it would be interesting to study my thought process. I try to understand the ways and reasons why I review and revise certain writings, so I decided to post this work, The Waterfront, in its different shapes (versions) in the order in which they were written. I'm not sure about the final piece, but the process is certainly valuable. Sometimes I sift through (process) stories and poems in my head while writing, and I am able to post the finished piece as is. Other times, I seem to edit forever until it feels "right". Sometimes words roll off my mind a mile a minute, faster than I can write. Other days my brain considers each and every word resulting in scanty pieces.


I)
The murky depths beckoned
Millions of tiny waves rippled across
Reflections on the surface from the afternoon sun
Cast haphazard shadows all over the water

The embankment was steep
Muddy with cans strewn upon
A grey steel railing ran around
Fencing off the water

The small house was painted white
Old yet of simple style
The second floor afforded the view
Of the waterfront below



II)
Clear deep blue depths
Beckoned as tiny waves rippled across
Reflections on the surface from the afternoon sun
Cast delicate shadows on the water

The shoreline sloped softly
White sands bare and inviting
A bamboo fence surrounds all sides
Keeping separate the water

The large house was painted white
Modern and exquisite both
The French windows opened wide
Revealing the waterfront below


III)
Murky depths
Millions of waves
Reflections
Haphazard shadows

Embankment steep
Muddy
Steel grey rail
Fences off the water

Small house painted white
Old yet simple
Second floor view
Waterfront below



IV)
Clear deep blue
Tiny waves ripple
Reflections at noonday
Delicate shadows

Shoreline slopes softly
White sands invite
Bamboo fence surrounds
Separate is the water

Large white house
Exquisite modern
French windows wide
Waterfront below

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Door To Nowhere





I peered inside. It was eerie and dark. A foul smell overwhelmed my nostrils. Giving my eyes time to adjust, I entered slowly and stood right by the door. I could taste vomit. I could smell it too. Soon I could see better, and inched forward cautiously. The weight of the door caused it to slam forcefully behind me. Automatically I tried the handle and it turned. Whew! I was not locked in. There was a long corridor leading off both to the left and to the right. I dared not go further. Yet my feet were still moving and I fell forward over something. Someone screamed in pain ... a horrible hoarse sound. It made my skin crawl and the hairs on my arms seemed to stand on end. I suddenly felt cold. Then there was a string of cursing let out through clenched teeth. I sat up and rubbed my head, anxiety taking over my entire being. From nowhere a beam from a large torchlight startled me and it remained fixed directly on my face. Across from me was an old man, wrinkled and disheveled and dirty. He looked very very old. He sat upon crumpled bedding on a stone cold floor. Plastic bags and torn duffle bags surrounded him. Then he began to cough. A long and raspy bout that must have hurt his chest. It went on for a long time and the light darted about as his frail body shook. I covered my ears with my hands. Finally the coughing ceased. The old man swallowed a potion he had taken from his jacket pocket. Silence. Those little beady grey eyes did not blink. He gazed at me for hours, or so it seemed. He just simply stared.