Archive for May, 2011

poem for oldest daughter

May 22, 2011


Distance does separate.

My heart aches to come visit,

Sit down, have a cup of coffee,

In your kitchen,

Talk as we go to the grocery store,

Which is when we truly share,

But there are 4 states

And 800 miles

Between us,

The sun rises here

36 minutes

Before it reaches you,

Your computer, depending on your paycheck,

May be on, or off,

And we do not do well on phones.

But there is no Winter where we are,

And Spring begins in February,

I have not scraped ice off the windshield of my car

Or felt my fingers go numb with cold

In three Decembers now,

There is something to be said for that.

And so we remain, alone, apart,

While grandsons grow up into men,

I am not there for “Grandma’s Day”

And we miss every game of their soccer season,

Life is always bittersweet,

Joy always comes mixed with tears,

We must gather the strength that lies within,

Trust in the Wisdom that brought us here,

Trust in the love that connects our hearts

In spite of anything.



May 19, 2011

The spine is an amazing labyrinth of interconnected parts. When some of them don’t quite connect right or get twisted or bent a little wrong, boy do we know it!

I’ve started walking 3 miles a day, and now that I’m beginning to exercize regularly, my back is giving me fits. It just plain hurts. So now I am walking but in pain. Especially first thing in the morning.

Our son Jamal has some sort of genital defect, he’s been told, in his back or spine, which he has to gingerly care for, or he could be in very big serious trouble. He’s been in pain wrything on the floor before.  The last chiropractor said it was from one of his parents. I’m guessing it’s me.

what is a book?

May 18, 2011

What is a book? A book is knowledge, and knowledge is power. Especially today, when power has become = to being able to find information. Knowledge is at everyone’s fingertips. The key is being able to decipher all those millions and millions of gigabytes, decipher good information from bad information, reasoned information from babbling.

Today I go to my college, to remove books from the library. We are to remove as many books as possible, books not checked out in 10 years, books no longer having pertinent information, books in languages no longer taught at our college, BOOKS. Books books books.

We have a small library to begin with, something like 80,000 volumes. The library “space” is to be turned into a knowledge commons, a cool place to gather for students, with the Writing Lab and other helpful offices within its walls, plus: a coffeehouse.

I am right with the administration on this idea. I worked in a university library for 16 years and saw it evolve from a collector of volumes, to an interpreter of information mostly available online. Still, I love books. If there is anything I have trouble getting rid of, it is a book. An interesting, OLD book is even harder to get rid of. My office is a collection of books. Those by some famous theorist are the most valulable when old.

So this, today, will be a painful task, but also fun in some ways. It’s a treasure hunt. We are allowed to rescue titles that we want to keep back in our Departments. This is going to be a tough task.

I wonder about random musing of shelves in the future, times when you stroll through the shelves and randomly search, then find something wonderful that you never expected to find. What will that be like online? Somehow it just doesn’t “feel” the same to me. Is a relationship with a book you can hold in your hand, the same as a relationship with a gigabyte? That is something my great grandchildren and I will have to figure out.

pond life

May 13, 2011

Mid-May. Pond is alive with turtles and frogs. Walking, you see turtles thick all over the pond now. They have grown larger, most having 5-6 inch-long shells. They fear people and jump into the water if one comes near. They raise their heads out of the water to breathe and dive deeper when a human walks by.

Frogs provide a symphony of sound in early to late evening. Some of them sound like Spanish dancers clicking castenadas, very fast. The sound is amazingly loud. A tree frog last night climbed up the outside door frame of our house, caught the Mayfly he was after & then jumped onto the house siding, his sticky-like paws enabling him to move sideways and finally down. My camera flash caught him in the dark night before he was gone.

    As I write this, thunder rumbles in the distance.

having the summer off

May 12, 2011

I’m a working class girl. My dad was a professor, but he was the first in his family to get a college education. I am the first woman. At home, he wore white t-shirts and gray pants. Every day. And just hung out with us. His father worked for the Monon railroad, as far as I know for his whole working life. My other grandfather worked as a car mechanic, a security guard, and during the depression for the W.P.A., building sidewalks on city streets. My grandmother took dresses from other relatives apart and reshaped them for my mother, during the depression. She was pretty good with that foot-operated sewing machine. She had 4 sisters. They were all sent to other people’s homes to work as domestic servants, when they turned 15. They all quit school at the age of 12. Besides my dad and myself no one else in my family has a Masters degree, that I know of, let alone a PhD.

For most of my life, I worked jobs that did not require a college degree. My very first job ever was being the hat check girl at a roller rink, age 15, on skates. From there I did the waitress gig at quite a few restaurants. Restaurant managers are some of the worst sexist jerks I ever met in my life. One constantly put the moves on me. Another beat his wife, and she would come in with bruises, expecting sympathy. Yet another’s wife was having an affair with the younger night manager. The manager came in one night, punched him out and fired him, then divorced his wife.

 Then I became clerical staff at a university library. As my research skills grew and I began to out-do the professional librarians and be requested by professors for assistance w/ their research, I decided I could do this for myself and ret’d to school. Besides, there was nowhere for me to advance to within the library system, and I didn’t want to get an MLS (Masters of Library Science).

During my 16 yrs. as library clerical staff, we never got the summer off. I’m used to 2 weeks paid vacation, and that was a privilege. We never had money for any planned getaway vacation, so I usually took a day or 2 off, here & there, all throughout the year.

To now be working a job where I get 3 months — the summer — OFF, is frankly, to be living a life of privilege. It *is* something that was within my own family of origin, as my own father took us on a 3-4 week annual family vacation. We camped in tents, but we traveled, almost always west. I’ve had my August birthday in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and in Mexico. I’ve seen a bullfight, and I’ve driven into the California Redwoods, where trees made us feel as big as an ant.

But for my working lifetime, I’ve never had my own summers off. The school year is so stressful & hectic, it’s almost a necessity. I have time to breathe, to stress down, to contemplate, to organize. I have summer projects, including a journal article and family history research. But my time is my own, and I am setting no alarm clock. I get paid very little for the amount of education I have and the incredible amount of work I do during the semester. So I see this as a wonderful little “perk” almost necessary to this job. However, I also know just how much this sets me apart from most of the global world. It is an incredibly privileged life.

James Agnew’s 1st family!

May 2, 2011

James Agnew, my great-grandfather, was married first to Mary Caroline G (not sure if it’s Gross, Gorp, or what), in August of 1863. They were married in New Albany. This is THE place for our relatives, that’s for sure! Most of them still live there. James & Mary had 2 girls, Annie in 1865, Olith in 1867. I’ve never heard that name, but she evidently went by “Ollie”. Both Annie and Ollie survived to adulthood and were married. I don’t have that info. yet. Annie is listed as a surviving SISTER in William Robert’s obit. William Robert is the eldest child of James and Carrie, his 2nd wife & the marriage we all came from.

James went by “James A.” in the 1st marriage. So his middle name starts with A. Just another clue.

Mary dies in 1874 at age 31. He then married Carrie Bybee, my great grandmother, in 1879. My grandpa John Wesley is the youngest, along w/ his twin sister, from their marriage.