Tuesday, June 30, 2015


In storytelling and in writing, point of view or perspective can turn the story around, on its head, going a different direction.  Picture book author, Jon Scieskza, illustrated this masterfully when he wrote The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by A. Wolf, as told by Jon Scieskza.  If you are not familiar with the book, Alexander T. Wolf proclaims his innocence from his jail cell.

A fun storytelling “game” is to take a familiar story and retell it from the point of view of a minor character.  A few summers ago in the graduate level storytelling class I teach for University of Denver’s Library and Information Sciences Department, one group of students retold Cinderella from the point of view of the step-mother.  They had great fun with the assignment and the class enjoyed a top-notch off-the-cuff performance.

So when Lynda La Rocca gave the Shavano Poets’ Society gave us the following assignment: “Point of View: Turn It Upside Down,” I thought ,”What fun!” 
I searched for a poem which I could turn upside down by writing from a different perspective and finally settled upon “Warning” by Jenny Joseph.  You may not recognize the title, but many of you know something about the poem.  It spawned the Red Hat Societies.  Here it is in its entirety.

©By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
My Closet - lots of purple!
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth. 
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and a pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and the read papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I am at a stage in my life where I am realizing there were lots of questions I should have asked my mother before she left this earthly plane.  Questions I now know some of the answers to through experience, sometimes the hardest way to learn, sometimes the only way to learn.  My daughter is about the age I was when I should have started asking questions.  I’ve also been reading Women in Middlehood:Halfway Up the Mountain by Jane Treat and Nancy Geha.  So the poem I wrote is from a younger woman to her mother.

©Julie Moss, 2015

When you are an old woman wearing purple
With a red hat which doesn’t match, and doesn’t suit you,
I shall be entering the Forest of Middleood
That place where I am sure, but not sure
Climbing toward Wisdom  ---  the Wisdom you already have gained.

When you act like you are crazy
I shall sigh and shake my head just like everybody else,
But I envy your freedom to run through the rain clad in your slippers
While picking flowers from their gardens.

When you are Wise and I am sure but not sure
I shall ask questions  ---  of you.
Questions I may not know how to ask, but to which you know the answers.
Questions about the Forest of Middlehood
About the Cairns you left for me to follow.
Questions you wish you had asked, and now desire to answer.

If you answer my questions, I can practice a little
Before suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Here's another blog, Meanderings along the Narrow Way, I found while looking for pictures.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dad and the Summer Solstice

Sunday (June 21) is a double day – Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice.  It got me thinking about the summers when I was a child and some of the things we did during the summer with my dad.  For me those are good memories.

My dad was a typical father of the 1950’s.  He accepted the fact that he had three daughters and no sons by becoming the favorite uncle of the 11 boys who were my cousins.  He spent long hours at work and relaxed at home.  We took a two week vacation, and almost every year traveled to Iowa to see my mom’s family.  That’s where my summer memories begin – I became the family navigator at the age of five, since my mom was unable to read a map.  It gave me, the oldest, the privilege of sitting in the front seat of the car so I could help Daddy find where we were going.  As I grew, the route changed because the interstate highway system was being developed.  One of the best memories was the restaurant in Joliet, IL, that served PB & J sandwiches!  It was at that restaurant that I learned about tipping.

Courtesy of Firefly
Two of my dad’s summer memories were at the root of two of my favorite summer memories.  Chasing and catching fireflies.  We’d put them in a jar with holes in the lid and let them go before we went in to wash our feet and go to bed.  The other had to do with the Fourth of July celebrations.  Fireworks were outlawed in Ohio, but sparklers were okay.  Dad purchased several boxes of sparklers each year, and we ran about the yard waving our magic wands as the soft darkness grew darker.  Our yard in northeast Ohio was surrounded by trees, trees that we climbed during the day skinning elbows and knees, scratching arms and legs on the rough bark.  We called the trees surrounding the yard “The Jungle.”

My dad has been physically gone from my life for 37 years.  But he lives on in the memories and stories I have.  When he left this earthly plane he became my son’s Guardian Angel.  Although my son never knew his grandpa, he shares many traits with my dad.  And I know in my heart that Dad would have been the best grandpa in the whole world.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  Happy Solstice, Everyone!  Go outside and make some memories with your family.
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