7/30/14

This blogging session seems to have gone on its own track. Started off as an observation about how editing makes an idea into a story and wound up writing about how I am feeling about myself lately. I know I need to let the creative process take its own course and let whatever is going on inside of me come out. But looking back at what I have written so far, I’m not sure where things are really going. Let’s try and get this one back on track….
 
Creative writing has taken me on many adventures. It has always been amazing to see how the rough draft of a post starts out and how the final draft ends up. It’s like watching a painter create a picture in their head of what they want to paint and bring that picture to life on a blank canvas. The colors and forms fill up the picture and in the end becomes a work of art.
Sometimes I just start writing about something, an observation I’m making about something currently going on in my life. This summer has been a lot about baseball in our family, so a lot of my time has been around kids and doing things with them. So, I’m thinking about those experiences and relating it back to what I did when I was their age. 
 
The editing process is the key to making the final post a success. Making sure there are just enough words to make the idea clear to the reader without being too wordy. Or making sure I’m saying what I want to say with the words that I’ve chosen. Thank goodness we have computers and cut and paste options to help with that process. Makes it a lot easier to move paragraphs around and have a second set of eyes on spelling.
 
When does it become time for a story to take flight? When is it ready for the world to see? When it says what you want it to say and your brave enough to put it out there. Like the cover photo on my Facebook page says, “Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent.” Writing can be a way to share thoughts outside yourself. I used to journal my thoughts in notebooks and on the computer. Over the years I have gotten braver and braver at sharing those thoughts with others. 
By working on my writing again, I’ve been tapping into some creative energy that has been inside of me, waiting to come out. Seems to be coming out and taking me in many different directions. Sometimes staying on track with an idea and sometimes going off on multiple tangents. All a part of the creative process. I know what I  write is a personal choice, but there are many ways to do it. To bring the idea across to the reader in a creative but interesting way can be fun fun, but also very challenging. 
 
Blogging has helped me do a little bit of writing everyday and work on honing the craft. And, to experience some of the most special moments in my life again.
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7/29/14

Being involved in the kids baseball season brings back lots of memories for me. After experiencing the end of one of this year’s travelling seasons with the boys, it made me pull out some of my pictures and articles from my softball career last night.
 
The smell of old newspaper greeted me as I looked through the photos and articles. My softball years spanned eight years, starting when I was ten and ended when I was eighteen. Seeing the pictures from my first T-Ball team, the Giants to the different sponsored teams that I played on. Some of the girls in those pictures, I’m still in touch with thanks to Facebook. Remember the good ole days up at the Little League Fields? Did you know that our league started in 1957? Do you remember the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary All Star games in 1982?
Reading through the articles, I saw that my name was mentioned having had two hits in a game a couple of times. I have a couple of trophies in my keepsake box from some of the successes I have had in softball. But not all successes are measured by having a trophy. Just being able to play has helped me to become who I am today and helped me to be involved in what Max and Mitch are doing in baseball now.
One of the memories I have from my childhood is biking up to the ball park to play softball for my summer league growing up. The field was about a half mile from my house, right between an airport and a golf course on the east end of town. Some of the team pictures I have show the airport in the background. We used to ride on the sidewalk all of the way up there. The fields are no longer there. The song, “It used to be my playground” by Madonna, runs through my head as I think about it now.
My primary position was catcher and I would bat first because I was able to get on base a lot. It was neat getting on base, waiting for my teammates to hit me in. Felt like you were helping your team score points while you stood on the base cheering them on. I wasn’t the best player and I wasn’t the worst player but I came to the field every day to play the game and hopefully help my team win. Getting treat tickets after the game to get a soda and some candy was another favorite memory of mine.
Our team went to the State Tourney in St. Cloud. My Mom had written all of the team names in the brackets for who won and who lost each game. Looks like we only made it to the second round that year. Whether we made it to State or played through just the regular season together, once it ended I would miss heading to the field and playing on a team with those girls.
One of the best things about playing team sports is meeting kids you may not have gotten to know in school. The experience gave us something to have in common and made us friends. We shared a chapter or more in each other’s lives growing up, creating a camaraderie that will always be with us. How about the team pictures that sometimes get posted on Facebook? 
I carry fond memories of those times in my heart.

7/28/14

The last day of this season…
So far they had a 3-0 record in the tournament and made it to Sunday’s bracket play. Dad keeps telling him to get ready. He is excited to play, but it is so hard to get going for the early morning games. But, thinking about the feeling that comes when he steps onto that field to play makes it all worth it.
 
Sitting on the couch waiting for his uniform jersey to dry, he watched his parents get the cooler and snack bag set up for the day. The outcome of the first game would determine how long they would be at the fields. So, the supplies had to be planned out for the entire day. Win one, play two more. Lose one, all done.
He napped in the car on the way and woke up just in time to see the sign for Arrowwood Fields. Getting out of the car a little bit groggy, he got his equipment bag out of the trunk. He perked up when he saw some of the team already warming up at field #2. He felt good about being there and headed over. He hung his equipment bag on the fence, took out his glove and hustled into the outfield to play catch with one of his teammates.
The morning games always came with a chill to them, since the sun hasn’t had a fair chance to warm things up. The sun was beginning to shine through the clouds and he could smell the freshly cut grass. The field was just starting to wake up with the warmth of the sun.
“Hey guys, let’s take some batting practice,” the coach called out to them.
They hustled in to the dugout to get their bats and helmets and headed over to the batting cages. The other team was warming up and seemed to be a little sluggish too. The excitement for the game was there, but the body wasn’t feeling it quite yet.
Finally, the umpire said,
“Let’s play ball!”
The other team was up to bat first, so his team took their positions in the field and the game got under way. The struggle for momentum went back and forth throughout the game. The fear of losing this game hung over both teams. For the loser, it meant their season would be coming to an end. When the team made an error, the fear of losing took hold and made it harder to battle back. But they had to find a way to do it, if they wanted to win the game and move on to the next round.
After a couple of hours, the game came to an end. The other team won and was moving on to the next round. His team finished as one of the top eight teams in the tournament. He felt sad that the season was over. He wouldn’t be having the same games and practices with his teammates two to three times a week and his family wouldn’t be coming to the field to watch him play again until next season.
 
Each player walked away from the field with their own family. They waved and congratulated each other for having a good season. Everyone drove away from the field in their own direction having shared a chapter of their life story.
 
What will he remember about his last day of this season? At first, it will probably be the fact that they lost. But hopefully it will become one of many good memories of playing baseball.

Selma’s Story Time – Mrs. Stockton Recap – 7/26/14

It makes me mad when other people take things that don’t belong to them, whether they steal it or just take it. And, it makes me mad that I have to lock up everything in my house or in my car for fear that someone will take it from me. On the way home from a family vacation one year, we stopped at a hotel in Philadelphia to stay the night. We left some of our belongings in the car and the next morning, most of it was gone, including a 35mm camera that my Dad had since he was a teenager. I’m sure that camera meant a lot more to my Dad than it did to the guy who took it and probably sold it for some cash.
 
One of the reasons people take things from others is for the sheer thrill of taking them. They feel like they are getting away with something. It’s like kids in the movies that dare each other to go into their local grocery store and put some penny candies into their pockets and run out into the street. In the next scene, they gather back at the clubhouse and take inventory of their efforts. Another reason is to exert power over someone else. They take something to get back at them or they know the person would do anything to get it back. In these cases, if they don’t get the satisfaction off of the power play from the other person, they windup just getting rid of something that meant a lot to someone else but, in the end, really meant nothing to them.
 
Johnny Kidler took the watch from Mrs. Stockton because he knew it meant something to her. It fell out of her pocket and she really didn’t want him to have it. So, that made him want it even more. She was afraid of him from the constant bullying, so he already had power over her. He didn’t need to take the watch. but, he did, and sells it at a flea market so he could go to the movies. Mrs. Stockton carries the guilt for the loss of the pocket watch for many years, and is why she felt she needed to contact him and try and put some closure on what happened that day.
 
I wish that people would put themselves in someone elses’ shoes before they decided to bully or physically take something from them. How would they feel if it happened to them? Asking ourselves this question is how we activate our conscience. It ultimately helps us make the right choices to do onto others as we would like them to do onto us. 
 
Did you like the story about Mrs. Stockton? What were your thoughts about it? How did it make you feel? Please feel free comment on this post.

Selma’s Story Time – 7/25/14

 

They settled into the chairs by the computer desk, and set their tea cups down on the woven cloth coasters that Shelby had made for Mother’s Day a few years back.
“Do you think he still has it?” Shelby asked.
“I’m not sure. It has been on my mind since the whole thing happened. I guess I need to find out for sure. So, can you show me how to find him on the internet?”
“Sure,” Shelby answered, “click on the icon that looks like a globe, that represents the internet.”
“How does that represent the internet?”
“It’s the World Wide Web,” Shelby replied.
Mrs. Stockton clicked on the globe and in a few seconds, a search engine page popped up on the screen.
“Now, type Johnny’s name in the box and hit enter. We’ll start with that.”
She typed the name into the box and pressed enter. A few seconds later, a few search results popped up.
“Now we look through these and see if anything looks familiar. Hey, this one talks about Frankton. Let’s click on that one.”
Mrs. Stockton took the mouse and clicked on that link. All of a sudden, a picture of Johnny popped up on the screen.
“That’s him!” She exclaimed, “that’s Johnny!”
Shelby didn’t think they would find anything that fast.
“It’s an article about him and his auto service shop. Looks like he still lives in Frankton. We can now do a search on his name in the city of Frankton and get his address,” Shelby said.
She had her Grandmother start a second search, specific to Johnny Kidler, Frankton. An address and phone number popped up on the screen.
“They have this much information about people on the internet?” Mrs. Stockton asked.
“Even more, if you know how to do searches. Some pages you need passwords to get into.”
“Amazing,” Mrs. Stockton said.
“Well, should we try and call him?”
“I’ll make the call tomorrow,” her Grandma said. It’s too late to call tonight.”

************
Mrs. Stockton finished her soup and crackers and had the dishes put away by 6:30 PM. She decided that she was going to call at 7:30 PM, after dinner but not too late. She tried to watch a show on TV to distract her, but it didn’t work. Time was moving so slow that when the the clock on the mantle finally said 7:30, she felt like she had waited for years. She dialed the number they had found on the internet and let it ring. After four rings, a male voice answered,
“Hello?”
“Johnny Kidler?”
“This is. Who is this?”
“My name is Shirley Stockton, well it was Hanson when you knew me.”
“I’m sorry lady, I don’t know who you are.”
“I’m the girl you took a pocket watch from many years ago. We used to get off the bus at the same place and you would make a nasty habit of teasing me.”
There was silence on his end of the line. Mrs. Stockton’s hand was shaking while she was holding the phone. It was crazy that she still felt a little scared of him after all of this time.
“Hello?” Mrs. Stockton said to break the silence.
“I’m still here. You know, I do vaguely remember that watch. It was gold, right?”
“Yes, it was,” Mrs. Stockton replied anxiously.
“Well, I don’t have it any more. I sold it.”
“Why did you do that?” she asked, sounding disappointed with his answer.
“A day or two later, I took it to the travelling flea market and sold it for cash. Then I went to the movies.”
“So you picked on me, took something that meant a lot to me and sold it so you could go to the movies?”
“At the time, it’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t know that watch meant so much to you and your family. Probably wouldn’t have mattered to me though.”
“That’s just terrible,” Mrs. Stockton replied.
“I was just a dumb kid at that time. What did you think I did? Saved it in a box to give back to you someday?”
“That would have been nice. What did I ever do to you?”
“Again, lady. I was just a dumb kid who was looking for something to do.”
Mrs. Stockton was really bummed out about the watch. She had been holding out hope that she would get her family heirloom back. She now had to accept the fact that it was gone forever.
“Well thank you for your time,” Mrs. Stockton said.
“Sorry I didn’t have what you were looking for.”
“I guess I did find something I wasn’t looking for, closure. I can thank you for that,” she replied.
They got off the phone and she sat there for a minute not sure how she she was feeling. Shocked that it didn’t work out the way she wanted, but maybe in a way relieved that Johnny didn’t have it.

Selma’s Story Time – 7/24/14

As she drove to Mount Vernon on Monday afternoon, she was excited to see her Grandma and have a home cooked dinner. Pulling into the driveway, she saw the two story red brick house with dark green shutters. It felt like she was home. Shelby got out of the car and saw Oxford standing by the fence surrounding the Tinkers’ backyard. He was looking at her with his head titled to one side. When she arrived at the fence, he greeted her with a wet tongue on her hand. Shaking her hand to dry it off, Shelby smiled at the big dog and he wagged his tail.
 
“Hi honey. He’s a sweet dog, isn’t he?” Her Grandma asked as she walked up to meet her.
“Just like you say he is,” she replied.
 
They hugged each other for awhile, then Mrs. Stockton said, “let’s go in the house. Dinner is almost ready.”
 
They walked into the house and the aroma of fresh baked apple pie filled the air.
 
“You always out do yourself, Grandma.”
“Since your Grandpa passed away, I need someone to take care of.”
“Thank you. But someone should be taking care of you,” Shelby said, “how about you sit down and I’ll serve the wonderful dinner you made for us.”
“That would be nice Shelby, but I can do it.”
“I know you can, but let me this time,” she said and pulled a chair out from the table for her to sit down.
“So tell me about your project,” Shelby said as she pulled two plates out of the cupboard.
“I want you to help me find someone.”
“Yes, someone who bullied you on the bus when you were a kid. Why do you want to find him?”
“He has something of mine that I want back. He made me give it to him so he would stop picking on me.”
“What is it?” Shelby asked.
 
Mrs. Stockton didn’t know whether she could tell her Granddaughter that information. It was still pretty hard for her to admit to herself how much it has bothered her all this time. What she gave away that day wound up being a lot harder to deal with over the years than the teasing was at the time.
“It was a pocket watch that would now be a six generation heirloom. It was made of gold and was a gift that was received for your Great-Great-Great Grandfather’s years of service on the railroad.”
“How did Johnny get it from you?”
“I brought the watch to school for show and tell. After we got off of the bus, he was following me home, teasing me about being short. I turned around to tell him stop and the watch flew out of my pocket. Until then, he had no idea I even had it.”
“Why did he want it?” Shelby asked.
“It meant something to me. He told me he would stop teasing me if I gave it to him.”
“What did your parents say?”
“They didn’t know that I took it to school. A while after that, they couldn’t find it. My Dad was pretty upset about it, but they decided it must have just got lost.”
 
They finished up dinner talking about Shelby and what was going on at Columbia. After dessert, they cleaned up the dishes and headed to the porch with some tea. Mrs. Stockton was getting anxious as it became time to start the search for Johnny.

Selma’s Story Time – 7/23/14

Mrs. Stockton had grown up in Frankton, a small town in upstate New York. She and her husband moved from there to Mount Vernon, NY when he was offered a teaching position at Columbia. Shelby would come to visit her Grandparents every summer and Grandpa would take her to work with him. His love for the campus made her fall in love with it. When it came time to make the choice of colleges to attend, she already made her choice. Shelby was sad that he wasn’t there when she became an enrolled student, but she felt him by her side everyday in the memories they shared.
While studying at the library, Shelby saw her Grandma’s e-mail about dinner on Monday. Oh she did love the Mac and Cheese, and her Grandma knew how to make it. Baked in the oven, not made on the stove top. Shelby was also excited because her Grandma would send her home with leftovers. Perfect meal for the starving college student.
 
She was getting concerned about her Grandma wanting to find this Johnny Kidler. Why did she want to? Did she want to make peace with what happened on the bus? Or was she just curious about who he had become? They knew nothing about this guy, except that she knew who he was many years ago. The whole project seemed a little bit on the risky side. What if he was a bad man? What if he didn’t even remember her? Hopefully he wasn’t a mean or violent person. She would hate for her Grandma to come up against that when she was trying to understand what happened to him.
When her Grandma got something in her head, she always needed to find out the information or resolve the issue to be at peace. That is probably half the reason why she is doing this.
 
Shelby wondered if her Grandma had any reservations about pursuing this project. She guessed that she would find out on Monday.