Wednesday, December 20, 2023

“SING, OR GET OUT!”

 



From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

Sadie was a single woman, and she had been single for a lot longer than she had been not-single. There was a husband way back in her youth, and three other men who came close to landing her in their marriage bed—nevertheless, Sadie had remained single. She had lived alone for the biggest part of her 85 years, and it suited her. Whether contentment with it came naturally or as an adaptation to her circumstances, Sadie didn’t know, and what’s more, she didn’t stew over it. A fretful mind had been a troublesome quality of her youth that she had got the better of with time.

          It came to pass that Sadie could no longer live alone, however. She could move in with her son or her daughter. In both cases, she would have a room of her own and the rest of the time would live in the midst of their noisy lives. Sadie opted instead to take a quiet and private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility for seniors such as herself. It was just the right fit for the independent-minded and self-sufficient Sadie.  

Adjustment to her new surroundings came easily and quickly to Sadie. Course-correcting was another skill she had mastered over the years. One of her favorite mottos was that by not allowing endings to occur, we don’t allow beginnings to form. She looked for opportunities within the structure of her new home to fill her time and to make friends. Toward that end, she joined a group that advertised itself as the Mid-Ohio Senior Chorus that met twice weekly in the recreation room of the facility. The chorus’s current agenda was to rehearse a selection of Christmas Carols as part of a holiday program for the entertainment of the residents and their guests. The show was scheduled to take place on the eve of Christmas Eve that year.

At her first meeting, Sadie slid into the only empty chair at a long table nestled among a total of three long tables in the rec room. Elder women of various descriptions occupied every other chair of two of the tables. The third table was crowded with elder men, two of whom Sadie knew to be single like herself. The other six men were married to six of the women in the group. A few minutes later, a quavering female voice broke into a trilling rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ and immediately was joined by a unison of female voices. The men took no notice of the singing that was underway around them, and they continued in their talking and joking among themselves, a noisy state of affairs that drowned-out the female voices. At the completion of the song, Sadie bent to the ear of the woman seated to the left of her and asked if the men were there to sing in the chorus. The woman replied that she didn’t know for sure.

Sadie’s hackles began to rise like an angry junk yard dog’s. She pulled to her feet at the precise moment the first words in a wobbly female voice took flight in the next song on the itinerary. The voice stopped. Along with Sadie’s independence had come a penchant toward opening her mouth and speaking her mind. “Gentlemen!” Sadie piped up. “Are you here to join in the singing or not?! And if not, then I suggest that you either decide to sing or get out!”

A deathly hush descended on the room. All eyes clamped on Sadie’s ramrod figure. Presently the women began to twitter meekly among themselves and the men’s necks swelled and their faces reddened in disdain for the mouthy woman who had the audacity to denigrate their dominion over that and any and all other proceedings. But soon, the atmosphere began to change. Sadie’s friend Sylvia rose to her feet and said, “Yes, Gentlemen! If you aren’t going to sing, then get out!” Chairs scraped loudly and some toppled over as all the women in the room found their feet. “Sing, or get out!” rang through the space as female voice after female voice joined in the mantra.

Stunned red faces blanched white and Adam’s apples in deflated male necks bounced up and down like loose ping pong balls. Two of the men wrestled to their feet in ready to vacate the room. Neighboring burly hands reached out and pushed them back down in their chairs. Tension coiled to near snapping. The anxious moments ticked by, and then at the furthest end of the men’s table, a melodic baritone gave forth: “Silent night, holy night, star so high, shining bright….”

All twenty-four members of the Mid-Ohio Senior Chorus struggled to their feet and the room filled then with the wondrous harmony of female and male voices come together in a common cause.

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays.©

***

The above story is a fleshed-out reenactment of a dream I had last night. -Linda Lee Greene

Books by Linda Lee Greene are available for purchase on Amazon.

#ChristmasCarols, #Christmas, #JoyToTheWorld, #SilentNight, #SeniorHousing, #ChoralMusic, #MidOhio, #LindaLeeGreene, #AuthorArtist

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

POPPAW’S ROCKING CHAIR

 


From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

 

That Christmas Weekend of 1952, there was a radio somewhere in the farmhouse of my maternal grandparents, tucked away, gathering dust. It hadn’t been turned on much since World War II when the family was anxious about the fate of their eldest soldier-son in battle with the Germans. By 1952, television had taken the place of radio in most homes, but such a “newfangled machine” hadn’t yet found its place in the farmhouse. The local newspaper held on as my grandparent’s major source of information, and by way of it, they knew that Harry S. Truman would hand over the keys to the White House to Dwight D. Eisenhower the following month; that Elizabeth II had succeeded her deceased father to Great Britain’s Royal Crown; and that war was on yet again, but in a faraway place known as Korea. That Christmas Weekend while my parents and my little brother and I were at the farm, the bulky and black rotary-dial telephone that sat on the stand by the front door of our own house eighty-five miles north of the farmhouse, could ring off the hook for all we knew. No answering machine or voice mail would alert us to missed calls upon our return home. Such conveniences were as yet to come into existence. Like the television, the telephone was another “newfangled machine” that Poppaw scoffed at and Mommaw wanted but wouldn’t get until several years later.

          Christmas was like any other day on the farm: the cows still needed rounded up and fed and milked; the hogs still needed slopped; the chickens still needed fed and their eggs gathered; and the outdoors dogs and cats still needed attended to, as well. That morning Poppaw was agitated over a fox that was menacing the chickens. His .22 in his broad and brawny farmer’s hands, he had slogged across the nearby soupy fields in hunt of the fox, but the wily creature had outsmarted Poppaw again.

          Discarding his muddy boots at the back door and propping his rifle in a corner of the entryway, Poppaw traipsed in his stocking feet to the coffee pot on the kitchen counter. He poured a cup of the steaming brew, lightened it with the heavy cream skimmed from the milk of his best milk cow, loaded it with sugar, and chugged it. And then he trudged to his rocking chair in the front room and draped his coat on its back. Poppaw always kept his coat within arm’s reach and his footwear at the back door, because there was no telling what awful things could happen out on the farm. One of the horses could lose its footing on an icy bank of the creek and plunge in to freezing ice-capped water way over its head—especially Old Roger. “That horse ain’t got the sense he was born with no more. He’s jist gitting too old and simple,” Poppaw often complained. Or that crafty fox could get into more devilment. He could sneak back in the henhouse and send the chickens scurrying and flopping and squawking into the farmhouse yard and up on the porch just as soon as Poppaw was out of the way.

Poppaw’s rocking chair was perpetually pulled up as close as possible to the chugging wood-burning stove. The farmhouse was abuzz with the voices of Poppaw and Mommaw’s several visiting adult children and their spouses and their children. I was in hog-heaven because being with my grandparents, my uncles and aunts and cousins was my favorite thing. I was champing at the bit to get Christmas morning underway. In my hands, as always, was my mother’s camera with which I would memorialize my family’s Christmas in black and white images. After what seemed an eternity to my fidgety cousins and me, Poppaw lowered his Abe Lincoln frame to his creaky rocking chair. It was our signal to begin our Christmas celebration.

My mother had stewed over what to get Poppaw for Christmas as she had done every Christmas of my nine years of life at that point. And as usual, she settled on two flannel shirts, two pairs of wool socks, and a couple packs of Mail Pouch chewing tobacco. Just about everyone else had decided on flannel shirts, wool socks and chewing tobacco for Poppaw too, and by the end of the hour, Poppaw had enough of them for an army. I snapped the photo of Poppaw opening the first of our gifts to him, and now I share it with you. Happy Holidays to you and yours. May it be as happy as ours was on that Christmas of 1952.

Oh, and Poppaw! I hope yours is a rocking good 125th birthday up there in Heaven today.©

                                                                        


***

Several years ago, I wrote a novel about Poppaw and Mommaw, their kids, and extended family titled GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS. The novel is a blend of fiction and nonfiction and includes transcriptions of actual letters the members of the family wrote to one another over the years and provide a poignant glimpse into the lives of a particular strata of American people during the twentieth century. Among the catalog of my books, GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS is my favorite. The act of writing it brought me home again after decades of rootlessness and alienation from my authentic self. It is a novel written from my heart more than any before then or afterwards. If you feel inspired to read the book, it is available for purchase at  http://goo.gl/imUwKO.

                                                                         


#Christmas, #1952, #HarrySTruman, #DwightDEisenhower, #QueenElizabethII, #WorldWarII, #Americana, #FamilySaga, #GuardiansAndOtherAngels, #LindaLeeGreene, #Author/Artist

 

Friday, December 1, 2023

IN DAD'S SHOES

 



 From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

 

Dad was in the garage,

Working on a car.

One of his,

Or one of his brothers’,

Or one of my mother’s brothers’.

It didn’t matter

‘Cause Dad liked working on cars.

Dad removed his greasy shoes and grimy socks before coming in the kitchen,

And as always before and again that time,

I noticed his feet –

So much like mine,

And I took the photo of his shoes to remind me,

And hoped I would be more like him in other ways with time.

 

©Linda Lee Greene, 2007

 

My father’s given name was Leland Edward Greene, but he preferred the shorter Lee Edward Greene. The briefer version won out and was his name for the entirety of his 89 years of life. I am named for Dad. The distinction is mine among the four offspring of my parents due to the order of my birth: I am the firstborn and because of that accident of chronology, by tradition the name was given to me. As time passed, however, it seemed meant to be, because among my three siblings and me, I resemble my father in appearance most closely. The jury is still out on whether or not I take after him in other, more crucial ways.

          For the past several years, I have been asked to write the eulogies of some departed members of my family. The assignments began with the passing of my father on March 29, 2014. In tribute to him on this day that would have been his 98th birthday. I am including herein the opening paragraph of the eulogy I wrote for him:

 

“Lee Edward Greene, 89, beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and cherished friend was one of the last of the Greatest Generation, a loving and dedicated family man who was a joyful and steadfast breadwinner. He was a man good with his hands whether the task was to fix a leaky faucet, to make a car purr, or to build a house. But essentially he was a simple man – he held no public office, never attained fame nor amassed a fortune, but within the small circle that comprised his life, he was the center that always held, the rock upon whom everyone depended, the flint against which everyone struck on his/her passage to adulthood. We aren’t likely to see his kind again any time soon…”©

***

                                                                       



If you are moved to read more about my father, the people and the circumstances that made of him the man he was, you can read about it in GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS. It is my first novel that blends fiction and nonfiction. The official genre is listed as historical fiction. Among an author’s catalogue of her/his work, there is always a favorite, the one written from the heart more than any before or afterwards. GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS is mine. My father’s coming of age story mirrors mine in that writing this novel put me on the path to my true home again after decades of rootlessness and of alienation from my authentic self. You can find the novel at http://goo.gl/imUwKO.

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

IF ONLY IT HAD RAINED…

 

From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

 

Today, Wednesday, November 22, 2023, is a day fit only for the intrepid here in Central Ohio. Blustery and gray and hung over from yesterday’s rain—the day mirrors my mood. “If only it had been such a day in Dallas sixty years ago!” the nagging voice whirls like dirvishes unchecked in my brain. “If only it had rained or at least threatened to rain and President John F. Kennedy had been in a closed car rather than the open one…his beautiful head would have been shielded from Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer bullet.”

          In my long life I have lived through my wedding day; the birth of my son; the birth of my daughter; my divorce; the death of both of my parents and of my brother and of my sister; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr and of Bobby Kennedy; the Vietnam War; 9/11; Covid 19, January 6th; and more surgeries than I can count on both hands; but no hours loom as starkly in my memory as those that opened at mid-day of Friday, November 22, 1963, the day my fellow Americans and I were struck dumb by the news that John F. Kennedy, our president, had been assassinated.   

          Basking in the unseasonably bright and warm day in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, my co-worker and I strolled leisurely from our lunch at a nearby cafĂ© to our workplace in the credit department located on an upper floor of the towering Uni-Card building. We approached the crowd of our loitering co-workers on the broad sidewalk fronting the building and joined in the pitter-patter and joking so typical of New Yorkers at their leisure. The lively drumbeat of chatter stopped abruptly when a man rushed out of the broad entrance of the building, his hand clutching a long white ribbon of tickertape that trailed in his wake, and his voice shouting, “THE PRESIDENT WAS SHOT! THE PRESIDENT WAS SHOT!” In the blink of an eye, a second man ran from the building. It was his duty to tell us that the president was dead, that the city was shutting down as was the case across the country, and that we were dismissed and advised to get to our homes as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

The one detail missing from my memory is the means by which I made it to the one-bedroom apartment in Flushing, Queens, New York, in which my bridegroom and I had taken up residence only three months before. Perched on the floor of our living room, our noses only inches from our small black and white television, my husband and I watched nearly motionless, other than bathroom and kitchen breaks, the unfolding drama of the several days comprising JFK’s assassination: the tragic motorcade, the chaotic manhunt, Oswald’s frenzied apprehension, and then, the man in the scruffy fedora crashing through the mad crowd, raising his gun-wielding hand and shooting Oswald dead…right there on the TV screen…right before our stunned eyes. And then there was Jackie’s blood-stained pink suit, the new president’s swearing in, the flag-draped coffin, the funeral procession with the riderless horse, the little son stepping forward and saluting his fallen father.

          To my mind, that condensed national event was unmatched in modern history—until now…until this now when Americans are more mixed up and at odds in mind and heart than at any other time since the country’s Civil War. As we gather at our Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, let us clasp one another’s hands and send out fervent entreaties for healing of the wounded USA.©

                                                                        


#11/22/1963, #ForestHillsNY, #JohnFKennedy, #JFK, #POTUS, #Assassination, #LeeHarveyOswald, #BloodStainedPinkSuit, #JackieKennedyOnassis, #VietNamWar, #9/11, #Covid-19, #January6th, #CivilWar, #LindaLeeGreene, #AuthorArtist

 

 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

WHAT A CHARACTER

 

From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

Life has hit me with some new low blows lately, and I expect them to continue to menace until I get beyond them—and then on to another round. That’s the way the day to day unfolds here in this particular confluence of protoplasm known as Linda Lee Greene. During times like these, I turn to certain practices that help me through. I meditate; I read inspirational material; I write; I storytell to my immediate loved-ones through a long texting thread; I paw through old photographs and relive the moments they bring to mind, an exercise in which I lose my present self in the past for a while and that rewards me with momentary amnesia of my current stresses.

          I took on the mantle as my birth family’s official photographer at the tender age of six, my mother’s little Brownie camera wound with black and white film incessantly in my grubby hands. I had the natural eye and ear for a good photograph. It was the precursor of my inborn talents as an artist and a writing storyteller that blossomed pretty much concurrently with my penchant for the camera. Such is the story behind my featured photo of my sister Sherri.

You will notice that the date of the photo is Oct. 1956. To be precise, I took the photo on the day of that month and in that year that was the occasion of Sherri’s third birthday. I had turned thirteen two months before. The location was the backyard of our home at 507 W. Second Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, an old multi-storied Victorian that I think of and dream about as home to this day, even though I haven’t lived there for sixty-five years.

That backyard was an ideal setting for great photographs. It was lush with green grass, flowering bushes, and leafy trees—an ancient cherry tree whose many and strong branches provided years of fun summer afternoons of climbing was a favorite of the neighborhood kids. An arbor of sweet green grapes draped the walkway that began at the foot of the back porch and led to the garage and doglegged to a gate that opened onto the alley. Tucked in one side of the arbor was a bench, a two-seater that was both private and romantic among the copious grapevines. I posed Sherri on the bench and snapped a picture. Next I dragged an old chair from the porch to the yard, lifted Sherri up to it, and instructed her to stand straight and smile.

Sherri had her own ideas about how our photoshoot should be conducted. She didn’t like posing upright on the chair and gave me her famous “look of disapproval”, her arms bent and fists coiling in ready to fight. I got the shot just in time and memorialized it in my photo of her on her third birthday. Sherri hasn’t changed one whit since then. She still has her own ideas about things and isn’t shy about having them known. She might be my favorite person in the world while at the same time remaining my competitor. My little secret is that it doesn’t matter to me which of us wins. All that matters to me is that Sherri is my sister, and I count my lucky stars for it every single day.

My wish is that you and yours have a lovely Thanksgiving. I know I will, in large part because my sister Sherri will be with me at our table this year, and God willing, for many years to come.©


#Sisters, #Thanksgiving, #VictorianHouses, #ColumbusOhio, #LindaLeeGreene, #AuthorArtist

Friday, October 27, 2023

AHEAD BY A NOSE

 

From Linda Lee Greene Author/Artist

Way back when I was a kid of Columbus, Ohio’s inner-city, narrow ribbons of patchwork concrete ran between the old, asbestos-clad Victorian houses and row upon row of brick townhouses, dwellings comprising neighborhoods much like those found throughout Colonial American cities. In one of the townhouses lived my friend Janey and her mother, Helen. Helen was the only single, working mother on our block, a status that rendered her a curiosity among the stay-at-home-mothers. There was never any mention of the whereabouts or even of the existence of Janey’s father. At some point, one of the local busybodies decreed that he must have been a casualty of World War II, for after all, most of the neighborhood kids were born while the fathers fought in that conflict. The explanation took hold and held, but we never really knew the true story behind the mystery of Janey’s missing father.

Actual fatherlessness was an almost unknown factor among our circle of family and friends in those days. Whether birth fathers or surrogates, fathers were at minimum often obscure figures in the background of our daily lives. In my and my sibling’s case, our dad worked nights and while he was at work, we slept, and while he slept, we were at school. He was nearly a specter-like presence among us on weekends, for most Saturdays and Sundays he was preoccupied with repairing his car, replacing a busted faucet or other chore required to keep a family and its household whole and functioning. But our dad, like the dads of other kids we knew, was there—somewhere—when the chips were down. Janey was the exception.

Janey was the exception in other ways, as well. She was the only kid I knew who sassed her mother. That kind of thing just didn’t happen in my tiny 1950s world. I stood in shocked horror of Janey’s aggression toward her mother, a kind of hostility I didn’t feel toward my mother, and if such a thing ever popped into my head, I ejected it for fear of hurting my mother’s feelings and/or losing her love. That Janey took such risks with her mother was astonishing to me. I didn’t like Janey’s behavior, but at the same time, I felt a kind of unwelcome admiration of her pluck. Guts like hers could take a person places, and that fact gave her a pass in my mind. It set her up as the wild-child of our play group and a fascinating character I was content to embrace despite her bad behavior.  

At bottom, the thorn that pricked the clashes between Janey and Helen was that Janey sucked her thumb. Janey and I were both six years old and in the first grade of the same school as well as neighbors when we met. She sucked her thumb then and still sucked her thumb when at the age of fifteen we said our last “goodbye” on the day my family moved out of the neighborhood. Throughout the years I knew them, Helen had coated Janey’s thumb with iodine and other bitter substances, had wrapped her thumb in tape or her whole hand in gauze, all to no avail. Janey persisted in her baby-mode despite the fact that her mouth and teeth were altered by the practice, and the thumb she sucked was stunted. It never developed to a size larger than a toddler’s. Other than the pint-sized thumb, the most notable mark of the thumb sucking ritual was on her nose. As Janey sucked her thumb, she hooked the index finger of the same hand across her nose, and the constant pressure from that finger carved an inwardly curving ridge in the bridge of her nose. Her ski-jump nose made Richard Nixon’s look half-baked. I can’t help but wonder if Tricky Dick sucked his thumb on the sly.



I am not here to disparage Janey. I have infinite sympathy for her, for surely her thumb was the pacifier she used to cope with the challenges that came with the absence of a competent father-figure somewhere in the catacombs of her days, and exaggerated by the enormous stresses of an overworked, single mother. Helen’s anxiety over Janey’s thumb sucking addiction was understandable for there was no getting around the huge impediment her thumb sucking presented to her future success and happiness. But even so, I just bet there is room for optimism about Janey’s chances in life, for you never know where an oddly-shaped nose might point you. Look at Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand. Janey’s strong and nervy, ramrod-straight backbone set against the flimsy bent of her nose tells me that while she might have remained a strange character in the eyes of many, she was also wily enough to stay ahead of the game—if only by a nose.©*

 

*The above is a work of fiction based on a composite of actual events as they exist in its author’s fuzzy memory bank.

 

***

           Linda Lee Greene’s award-winning novel


 

CRADLE OF THE SERPENT

 

“5 Stars…A woman’s search for the truth behind her husband’s infidelity unearths dark secrets and monstrous circumstances, chilling exposures that in the end illuminate her path to a new and better life…told from varying viewpoints in varying states of existence and so becomes quite unique and utterly fascinating."

 

Purchase Link: goo.gl/i3UkAV

 

#VictorianHouses, #Townhouses, #ColonialAmercanDwellings, #WorldWarII, #FathersDay, #ThumbSucking, #FathersAndDaughters, #MothersAndDaughters, #SingleWorkingMothers, #RichardNIxon, #LindaLeeGreene, #CradleOfTheSerpent

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

BOOKS TO READ THIS WITCHY SEASON

 

Leigh Goff…Books to Read This Witchy Season


If you’re a fan of young adult books that keep you on the edge of your seat during the witching season, then 
Bewitching Hannah and Disenchanted should be on your must-read Halloween list.

 

 

 


Bewitching Hannah

Bewitching Hannah is a captivating tale that weaves together elements of witchcraft, romance, and coming-of-age drama. Set in the historic town of Annapolis, Maryland, the story revolves around Hannah Fitzgerald, a young witch who is just beginning to discover the extent of her powers and she’s falling into a forbidden romance. As she grapples with her newfound abilities, Hannah faces challenges, both supernatural and ordinary, that will keep you turning the pages in this Beauty and the Beast tale.

You will escape into a world where secrets, spells, and the supernatural collide, making Bewitching Hannah a perfect choice for those seeking an enchanting and slightly spooky YA experience this month.

 

 


Disenchanted

In Disenchanted, the reader will explore a magical world filled with curses, enchantments, and star-crossed romance. The story is set in the picturesque town of Wethersfield, Connecticut, where Sophie Goodchild, a young witch, becomes entangled in a centuries-old curse that has haunted her true love’s family for generations. Follow Sophie as she tries to break the curse in a world where magic and reality intermingle and where twists and turns abound. The story is not just about magic; it’s about self-discovery, the enduring bonds of family, and the power of love to overcome even the darkest of enchantments. This book will have you under its spell from start to finish.

So if you’re in the mood for enchanting stories that combine the allure of the supernatural with swoon-worthy romances, Bewitching Hannah and Disenchanted are perfect choices. These novels offer a captivating blend of magic, mystery, and romance that will transport you to worlds where the line between reality and enchantment blurs. It’s time to get bewitched by these spellbinding reads.

 

Buy Links

 

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