Experience Is Portable

When we moved to my new beloved South, I threw out big box after big box of newspapers and magazines where my articles appeared. It was a virtual history of my world, my life, in writing. It was also a history of my writing timely pieces. I recall the first one published that had national scope, was about Elian Gonzales, the Cuban child who was sent back to Cuba.

Why did I do it … throw them away?

Because, sometimes, the baggage, even accomplishments of your past, must be let go to make room for future growth.

I do have copies of some of the pieces on a computer, but by no meas, all.

My kids didn’t want them. That was a lot of paper. And it was my take on life and not theirs. They are here to tell and write their own stories.

As I went through to lone box in our garage the other day, along with the Stars and Stripes, I found a newspaper artle written about me, not by me. It was from one of my previous lives, you know, a chapter of this one that was long ago.

There was a time when I sculpted people into puppets. Yep. And I do not like puppets. They are a notch beneath clowns. But I used them as a tool.

The firts year that Winterfest at Kings Islan opened, they put out a call for artists and craftspeople to have booths in the Festhaus, where people ate and a show was presented. To this day, if Nick or I hear the song, “Food glorious food,” we groan.

Weird thing happened, they seemed to like my work and invited me. So I sat in the lower level of our trip-level in Mason, and inhaled clay dust and sewed puppet outfits.

That hwole Chritsmas season, from Thanksgiving until New Years, I was at a booth at the Festhaus, schlepping my puppet people.

Because they were unique, the pr man from Kings Island, took a liking to them and had photographers take photos. We became friends and would have lunch for years. He was a good man.

Somehow, Ohio magazine got wind of them and shot theym and they appeared on their cover for unique gifts. There was a blurb about them in Cincinnati magazine, and that is how The Bob Braun show found me. I was then doing workshops with kids, using making puppets, to teach communication skills.

So, I was asked to bring a couple of the kids, make a puppet of Mr. Braun, and appear on the show.

When I told my mom, here comment was, “It s too bad you gained your weight back. That was a real boost. I was 6 ft. tall and weiged 155.

Oh, to weigh 155, again.

I was also asked to make puppets of Robert Taft’s family. He was governor of Ohio. Carl Lindner was another one I was asked to do and Willard Scott was created as Carmen Miranda. That one, I did for the heck of it, sent it to him, and never heard a word.

I didn’t like doing the workshops with kids. I had to haul a lot of stuff. And frankly, teaching a group of kids isn’t my thing. I just couldn’t let them know that. But I am fessing up. I love teaching workshops with adults, especially women.

I remember at sign0ups for the workshop, one mother, a snoot, said, “My boy doesn’t need communication help. He talks all of the time.”

Uh-huh.

Some people don’t understand that communication is more about listening than talking.

Making the puppets went well with my solitary-isn, personality. No, I am not a total lonaer. I am a leader, too, if I am in a group. But I find that that s more perfomance art for me, an energy expender, where creating alone, and being able to learn at my own speed, quickly, is what I like.

I didn’t know all of this at the time. I was young. I didn’t have a clue as to who I was, which made me sort of lost. My energies were spent having and raising children. That, I loved.

My kids, all small at the time, would be given a hunk of clay and they would sit with me and make a puppet head (or creature). They have always know that I was a clayhead.

Bob Braun was very nice to be with. He knew how to do a show and make his scared guest look good. They people in the audience didn’t bother me, but those cameras and lights were something I hadn’t experienced.

My foray into people puppets only lsted a year or so. For me, life has been about learning and practicing and then moving on and taking that experience with me.

Experience, not boxes of newspapers. It travels much lighter.

Susan

The Ides of August

A bit of death is in the air.

August does it to me. Most every year, the month of August brings a sullen, confused time into my life … into my state of mind.

This year, I lasted about a week into August before it really hit me. I am done with summer. Worn out from digging, bending, schlepping, lifting and tending the garden. Even the heat is different.

Yesterday, afternoon, I walked outside to try to get enthusiastic about something. I was hoping to feel the magic of the garden.

I looked around my yard. I walked to the wildflower garden, all spent from heat and exhaustion. Their bright colors had transpired to gray. Their heads, once bonnets of beauty, looked like me when I need to have my hair colored. Their posture was like mine, too. Bent.

The hydrangeas, which had been transplanted this year, and had been warding off the fungus, showed signs of weakness.

After. Few minutes, I walked into the house, noting that their was no air to breathe outside.

The garden had taken a toll on my body. I know, I know, I did it to myself. No one told me to haul bags of pea gravel, lift it and put it around. I didn’t have a gun at my head switch someone saying, dig deep into this clay to land this spires.

No, I was my own garden warden. The vision was strong. The body did most of what was asked. And now, it was revolting, telling me that it was time to rest.

There are times when I dance as fast as I can. I get a project, a vision in my mind and I go for it. I do what it takes for as long as I can.

Even if it involves trips to an orthopedic doctor and MRIs and. Probably, physical therapy.

Last week was also the week before my 6-month mammogram and visit with the surgeon. My first check-up since I was declared cancer free. And I had been cancer-free. Once the surgeon had said those words, after surgery and before radiation, I lived my life free of cancer. I simply went on.

The funny thing about many kinds of cancer is that you feel fine and dandy, even though a group of cells are gathering to form a convention of attackers, often you don’t know it. It is like walking in your yard, as you always do, but this time, you look at the grass and see a copperhead. Yikes. But you get rid of the copperhead and move on, perhaps with a slower speed because you realize that you need to slow down and feel life, or you speed up things because you hear tick-tock, tick-tock.

For me, it wasn’t so much the episode with cancer … it is age. No matter how much I want to believe that age is just a number … for me, it isn’t. It is trying to balance attitude, looks and body. I rarely have them all in sync.

And August is my month when I feel everything shift. It is my of uncertainty, a bit of a foggy head and a sense of loss … ad transition.

I see photos of my grandchildren heading back to school. A couple of days ago, I got a phi tire of my two oldest granddaughters standing by each other. One is a senior and one is a freshman. The senior was going to drive the freshman to high school. I couldn’t help but get misty.

It is so difficult for me to put my arms around the fact that one of my sons will have a daughter in college next year.

I guess that August is a melancholy month for me. The air even shifts. What was simply hot and humid, become stifling. The sounds of outside are different. The nights are loud with a cacophony of insects and their hallelujah chorus. And even now, as I sit on the screens porch, the sounds of insects drone, not allowing silence of any kind.

I tend to craw my way through August, waiting for it to end. If I acknowledge and embrace this weird sense that I feel, I can almost laugh at it. But mostly, I don’t think it is very funny.

The good news is that when September arrives, I have figured out my next chapter. I have let my mind and body regroup. At this moment, I am uncertain about what my next act on life’s stage will be. Will I continue to write and allow people to see some of the workings of my mind and heart, or will I hang that up? What will I do to move my life and thoughts forward? Or do I have to look at life that way?

There is something good that comes out of putting one’s shovel down for a while. Breathing deeply and taking stock. Maybe that is what August is about? Perhaps the discomfort and uncertainty of and uncomfortable feeling of this month is part of the growing process. It is a realization of the seasons. Seasons change. So must I.

But for now, I think I will rest.

Susan

PS. Winston feels this way, too.