Where poets, writers & artists won’t let chronic illness stand in the way of creativity
Welcome to Poet’s Corner (& Artists too) ~ Issue #33
From our Editor:
We have a real treat for you this time. This issue is going to be all about storytelling, in words and pictures.
Our special guest is Sandi Davis, a CreakyJoints featured blogger, who is going to share a story with us, about her view of Oklahoma that reaches back to her roots.
We featured Sandi last year and we are so happy to have her back again, with another compelling story.
The other artists featured, will be sharing their stories with photography and art, hence our theme *Storytellers*
If you live with a chronic illness and would enjoy sharing your stories, poems, photography or artwork, please contact me at [email protected]
Let the storytelling begin. We hope you enjoy!
CJ Poetry Editor
In this issue:
Sandi’s View of Oklahoma (Short Story by Sandi Davis)
Sunlight on Frosty Rose (Photography by Arthritic Chick)
The Eye of RA (Conté crayon, maker and pen by Unexpected Advocate)
Tale of a Dog in Videos (Story & Photography by Brenda Kleinsasser)
I was born in Oklahoma, and from coast to coast, if I’m in a group, people will automatically sing the first line of our state song, “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.”
That song, Indians, tornadoes, oil and “The Grapes of Wrath,” are what most people used to think about my home, if they thought about it at all.
I worked at a major hotel chain’s call center while I attended the University of Oklahoma. When a caller would ask where they were calling and I told them, the inevitable reply was “You don’t sound like you’re from Oklahoma.”
Here’s a secret. The accent referred to as “Network Television Standard” is the strip of states in the center of the country: Nebraska, Kansas and, yes, Oklahoma.
I will say people who live close to the borders of Arkansas and Texas have a marked accent. Listen to Reba McEntire.
I traveled for years. When I’d get into a cab and tell the driver I was from Oklahoma, they could never place it on a map. My poor state wandered from Wyoming to Kentucky.
Then April 19, 1995 happened. The world got a good, long look at Oklahoma and Oklahomans.
We’re nice. We will go out of our way to help each other. It’s the way we are. Our reaction to the mayhem was to grieve together and work with each other to rebuild what was broken. The men, women and rescue dogs who came here to help us were taken in and treated like family. Their laundry was done, dog food bought and restaurants fought over the right to feed those men and women who lived in a nearby convention center. They could not spend their money.
Police asked the public to stay off cell phones so lines would be open for emergencies. The airwaves were silent. Crimes stopped. For a long time our city was focused inward, helping build the memorial for that terrible day.
A few years before, a local businessman, Jim Brewer, bought many of the buildings across the railroad tracks just east of downtown Oklahoma City. A Spaghetti Warehouse was the first business to open in the area named Bricktown for the red brick streets left over from the days before asphalt. Brewer opened a two-piano bar and karaoke club across the street and those evolved into one of the most successful downtown entertainment districts in the United States.
Today, Bricktown has a canal running through it with clubs, movie theaters, apartments, hotels, fine dining restaurants and several places named for a few superstars – Toby Keith’s, KD’s Southern Cuisine (basketball superstar Kevin Durant owns the place), and Mickey Mantle’s. There are boats cruising the canals that pass by a huge sculpture piece in process, detailing Oklahoma’s land run, which opened central Oklahoma to non-tribal settlement.
The Five Civilized Tribes – Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole – plus the other 30-odd recognized tribes in the state, are helping to change the way both the state and their people are seen, and benefit both.
Yes, casinos run by various nations dot the state, but the proceeds from these help build an infrastructure for the owners. The Cherokees, whose land is around Tulsa, have a Hard Rock Casino, but they also offer affordable housing and many other services to help their nation.
The Chickasaw Nation owns the central corridor of the state from Oklahoma City south to the Red River. Interstate 35 runs right through it, and the Chickasaws call it “Adventure Road.” From Remington Park in Oklahoma City – where quarter horses and thoroughbreds run — to WinStar World Casino, the largest casino in the world right on the Oklahoma/Texas border, “Adventure Road” has all kinds of cool stops.
The attractions along that road have helped fund a hospital, numerous clinics, senior centers and college tuition for members of the Chickasaw Nation.
The Choctaw Nation is one of the biggest defense contractors in the nation. They manufacture most of the trucks the military uses. Their profits are used the same way as other nations.
And, if you want to see American Indians, just walk down any sidewalk in the state. They’re the teachers, engineers, astronauts and doctors, just like everyone else. My husband is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and he has blonde hair and blue eyes.
Another disaster in a different state provided Oklahoma a way to get a professional sports franchise.
When Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, their basketball team, the New Orleans Hornets needed a place to play. Oklahoma City had a professional quality arena, and the Hornets moved here until their Super Dome home was repaired.
Every Hornets game sold out and the NBA realized they had found an untapped market.
What we needed was our own team.
A group of Oklahoma investors bought the Seattle Supersonics, a franchise that wanted a new arena it wasn’t getting. Had the arena been built, this would be a different story, but to Oklahoma City’s delight and Seattle’s chagrin, the team was moved to Oklahoma City and renamed The Thunder.
The Thunder owns the most devoted and loud fans in the NBA. The team loves the fans right back and learns a lot about them by going to the city’s heart, the bombing memorial, right after they join the team.
Just down Interstate 35 from Oklahoma City is Norman, home of OU and the National Severe Storms Laboratory. It’s here because of our weather.
Oklahoma is home to the most weather monitoring equipment in the world. The highest wind speed ever recorded was here during an F-5 tornado.
We had tornado drills in school. It wasn’t a big deal to us. We were taught about clouds, weather patterns and the why our state is the perfect breeding grounds for all kinds of tornadoes.
In Oklahoma, most people don’t have basements. We have storm cellars that have evolved from looking more like bomb shelters to sleek models that fit into your garage floor, complete with a device that will let first responders know you’re down there if your house is in a storm’s path.
Our weather reports are unlike any others I’ve seen. We are given precise information about fronts, dry lines and heat domes. They can now start to predict tornadoes two or three days before they form.
When one does and it’s on the ground, our weathermen have programs that give the locations of the storms and a timeline of where they are going, so you have plenty of time to either get underground or out of the way if it’s headed towards you.
Our TV stations, like many others, have helicopters but our pilots also track twisters and if one is spotted, you can see three or more helicopters using high-definition zoom lenses to track the storm.
We are not complacent about tornadoes. We take them very seriously and when a big one comes through and leaves swathes of devastation, our people come together again to help, heal and rebuild.
I’m proud of my state. People know who we are and where we are. The way we treated the thousands of people who came here to help after the bombing and after tornadoes is called “The Oklahoma Standard.”
I think it’s nice people sing “Oklahoma!” to me. I interviewed Antonio Banderas for the movie “Evita.” When his publicist told him my name and that I’m from Oklahoma, when I walked in, he started singing my state song to me.
I let him finish.
Sandi also wanted to share this resource with you, as it describes Oklahoma City in more detail.
National Geographic Lists OKC Among 20 ‘Best Trips For 2015’ In The World http://www.news9.com/story/29761406/national-geographic-lists-okc-among-20-best-trips-for-2015-in-the-world
Since my arthritis has progressed to a point where my hand strength and dexterity is too poor to draw or play music, I have looked for other avenues for my creativity. Photography has filled the void.
The rose is perfect as it is, but with the diamond icicles it was better than perfect. My camera couldn’t quite capture the sparkle…maybe with more practice!
I have RA, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Gluten Intolerance, and am Hypoglycemic. I work full time, am a mother of two amazing step-children that make my days beautiful and livable despite the pain, am getting my Bachelor’s degree, and wear myself down to a nub sometimes with exhaustion and doing it all with several illnesses. My husband has RA, Fibro, and Osteoarthritis as well so I often have to take care of him. His diagnosis and disease onset came after mine and is not as aggressive as mine, but it is still taking its toll on both of us.
Art is my life, my passion, and my sanity. I have pushed myself through pain, walked with a cane, and done what I can to spend time in art galleries and enjoy the pleasures of the aesthetic beauty created by so many talented and amazing people.
Here is the story behind this piece of artwork in Unexpected Advocate’s own words:
I love to draw eyes. We look at them every day but often we don’t notice them, despite the fact that they tell us so much. They express so much emotion, just in and of themselves. I have often taken a moment to just look at someone and focus on their eyes, allowing the rest of them to go blurry. It always reveals so much. As a person with RA I have learned, as we all have learned, to mask how we feel when people ask us how we are doing. Every day is a bit different in terms of pain levels, how quickly our brains work, and how social we are able to be based upon how we feel. I tried to draw an eye that may at first look bright and expressive, but when you look closer there is something perhaps shocking or hidden behind it. I feel like that often, that if someone were to look closely at my eyes they might detect the true amount of pain that I am experiencing, or the exhaustion or the fear that my body is daily getting worse and grinding to a halt though no one else can tell just by looking at me. I think more closely, the eye is supposed to express the panic that I often feel based on the inner workings of my body. I try to stay positive and I work every day at being the best I can be. I am thankful that I can still work and that despite the amount of pain that I am in I have still been able to function and help provide for my family. So, despite the positive attitude and the willingness to get what is done that has to be done, I live with constant fear and pain that is still expressed behind my eyes. I can’t hide that if someone were to look closely. I just can’t. That is why I drew this eye. It is me……
Editor Brenda on “Trevor’s Golden Corner”
For those of you who are not familiar with Trevor, he is a Golden Retriever who helps Brenda out with spreading Tales of Awareness.
Trevor’s Golden Corner: Tale of a Dog in Videos
I am so doggone happy to be back with another tale. I may not be a famous dog on Facebook, but I have been in several videos with fellow brain tumor and brain cancer warriors of Brenda’s. It’s called Tumors Suck and this is my way of helping her spread awareness and hope. Brenda is almost a seven-year meningioma brain tumor survivor, so this is a cause for celebration. Hopefully, I may even get a few bones too. BOL It’s on September 8th and her theme this year is RAINBOWS, as there are 7 colors. How creative is that? She even had Elizabeth Wald from Stones in Harmony, who was featured here several months ago as a special guest, handcraft a necklace and earrings for the occasion. The colors are stunning. We might have gotten off the track here a bit, but I am so proud of Brenda for reaching this milestone. There would be no Trevor’s Golden Corner, our blog or any of her writings, as that is a gift she received after her brain tumor diagnosis and craniotomy.
Here is a photo that was used in the first Tumors Suck video I was featured in. Brenda was so excited, when she heard I made the cut. BOL
Be sure and join us next month when our special guests will be Judy Fridono, Ricochet, the famous surf dog and last but not least, Rina.