Tag Archives: adult workshops

Life, Love, and Paradise

24 Feb

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Dear Reader,

Imagine for a moment being invited to a family picnic where everyone, quite magically, gets along. Imagine witnessing people offering easy hugs and gentle back-pats and listening to each other’s life updates, both good and bad. Imagine being greeted by friendly faces and feeling welcomed immediately. This only partly describes the wonderful community of writers I spent an hour with each week at Hope Lutheran Church. I can’t help but think it was their strong bonds that fostered a setting for magnificent writing and poetry-making to occur. Below you will discover just what a recipe of innate talent and close friendships can create—pure, sumptuous delight.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Bucket

There was an old man
from Nantucket
who kept his money
in a bucket.

His daughter, Nan,
ran away with a man,
and as for the bucket…
Nantucket.

Elizabeth F.

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Life!

Who needs to wait until something occurs to make you feel that “it’s good to be alive?”

According to recent research, 100% of research groups studied agreed unanimously that being alive beats the heck out of being dead! Every day is a new day, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to live it however I want. Keeping your expectations low is critical to happiness.  I just say, “Hey, at least I’m alive. It’s better than being dead.” I have never heard a dead person say, “Man, I’m glad I’m finally dead.” Life is good, and death, well, who knows? I’ll stick with what I know: Life!

Rick Guilbeau

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Debate

– This poem is not endorsed by the Republican Party.

Do I or
do I not
participate
in this debate?
Should I?
Or should I not?
I’m smart enough, but
not that much.

Hate to be a stupid chump.
Why in the
heck did I vote for
Donald Trump?

Rick Guilbeau

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World’s Longest Fishing Pier: Port Lavaca,
A Refuge For Young Lovers

Wet
Slippery
Fishy
Salty
Calm
Rough
Always windy
Dead Bait / Live Bait
Dead Fish / Live Fish
Both adding a rugged scent
To salt air
Dark unlit places at night
Sparkling stars above
Also a sparkling reflection
Waving reflections—the salt—the air—
We are along 1 1/2 miles out on the bay
It’s
Mid-
Night
We hold
Hands
It’s getting
Chilly
Even in
Summer
The wet
Dampness
And wind
We
Kiss and
Hope it
Never
Ends.

Rick Guilbeau

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Paradise

Our grandchildren live on an island off the coast of Washington State. When we visit them, we also go to the beach! Their beach is unusually windy and cold, but the last time, in August, it was mild enough to explore the tide pools—small pools of water and tiny creatures and plants that are left behind when the tides go out. The experience was delicious for me—there were tiny creatures that I cannot name, even now, and never knew existed. I felt like I was in a magical world with some of my favorite people. In other words, Heaven.

Rebecca Lowe

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Poetry

Writing on snowy paper,
inspired by others’ words,
is easy
and intimidating
and solid.

Rebecca Lowe

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Old Cabin

Prickly cedar among white powdery rocks
bordering winding trails.
Reptiles are seen sometimes, both friendly and not.
An old cabin is sinking into the tall grasses
bordered by a thinly running creek.
Wood stoves and cold winters,
wildflowers in spring, summers of heat.
Old graves of beloved dogs,
friendly faces, good hearts.
Doors open, still.

Rebecca Lowe

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Time

Everyday life seems to be accelerating
with time as we age.
We seem to notice details of life with
much more appreciation now than in earlier
periods of our lives.
We see children as much more
involved, advanced, active in everyday life
than when we were growing up. Science and
technology were not as advanced as they are today.
There seems to be recognition of the
acceleration that is occurring in science and
technology and how much more needs to be
learned, practiced, and controlled.

Manny Chavez

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Appreciation of Life

It seems to me that life is just the way it has been described before, as being “miraculous.” I have much more appreciation for life now (at age seventy-three) than I did before. Just being “alive” is miraculous. To think that I am now in a much later stage in my life is scary and daunting, yet is is also very rewarding and appreciated. I feel very blessed to have had a good family, a good education, a good career, and good health. As I face an older age and have indication of neuro-degenerative impacts, I am still not scared of getting older. I still feel very honored to have been born and to live in the U.S.A. Recent occurrences have been good for all of us. New challenges are good for the U.S.A.

Manny Chavez

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Questions

Why am I here?
What do I want to do
with my life?
Who am I—who is this
woman Pat?
Will Pat ever do any more
art? Will she be strong
enough to work alone? And make art?
Would taking a pill make it more
easy and likely to work/make art?

Pat Keen

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Sunrise

This morning, I walked my dog Mo around 7 am and the sun was not yet up, but it was sending up orange and blue lights across the sky… and then in another viewing direction, the sky was a very deep yellow mixed with that same intense blue.

How wonderful that I remember it, and I can see it in my brain! Because I have some form of Alzheimer’s, so sometimes my brain is not available.

Pat Keen

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Friendship

The peace and tranquility that
comes with friendship,
sharing moments precious
to each other

Enjoying the unity
and bonding in
silence,
feeling refreshed
by each other’s
views and ideas
and loving,
having friends
to share
your journey!

Audrey Krier

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What Makes Life Worthwhile

Being married, having kids,
seeing them go through school, and friends
and adventures, successes, and feeling
you did something worthwhile in your
life. Seeing grandchildren grow and
being proud of their successes
and getting to know their talents
and what they give to the world.
It gives one something that makes
life worthwhile and fulfills one’s
dreams. Now, hopefully, this
world will benefit from
their successes. That’s
a legacy worth
passing on!

Audrey Krier

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Bridge City, Texas on the Louisiana and Texas State Line

Skiing
in the marshes with the snakes, crabs, alligators,
mosquitoes, and crawfish that live here.
Jet boats riding on top of marshes to see alligators
in dark, salty water.
And hot boudin cold couscous. Come on, push-push-push,
and eating rainbow crawfish.

Bobby Pruitt

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Family

With my family and grandchildren,
lots of laughter
in the outdoors,
in the mountains,
in the fresh air
that our God gave to us to enjoy.
My God is an awesome
God who reigns above.

Bobby Pruitt

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Okay?

Many years ago, I was put in charge of training a new salesman for Singer Sewing Machine Co. I let him drive the company van, and on the way back from the sale he was driving so fast that I thought, “I’m never driving with this guy again.”

We were headed down the freeway and about to turn onto the off-ramp when another truck happened to turn in our direction in front of us. He slammed on the brakes, and we rolled three or four times. There were no seat belts at the time, so our heads bumped the ceiling and we bumped into each other as we rolled in the air.

When we landed, the van was on its side and all the windows were smashed. He said, “You Okay?”

I said yes. I asked him if he was okay, and he said yes. We climbed out of the broken window and dusted ourselves off, both surprised to be alive, not a scratch on either one of us.

Lee Roy S.

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On living in Casablanca, Morocco

The life I had was rich and happy,
good family and good friends,
the life that I’d love to
give to my children and to
have again. Living was rich.

Sarita Mais

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Reading My Book

I am reading my book.
He is clearing the table and sweeping the
floor.
I am reading my book.
He is cutting the grass and sweeping the
sidewalks.
I am reading my book.
He is running the vacuum and dusting.
I am reading my book.
He fixes a quick dinner and brings
me my portion in the living room.
I am reading my book.
He looks at me and slowly heads up the
stairs.
I wait a moment or two, put my book down
& head up the stairs behind him.
Ain’t love great!

Jeanne Roden

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Race

When my son was four or five years old, we were living in Arizona on the Navajo reservation off and on, and the school would hold outdoor activities for us. I always attended them with my son Jon. At one event, there was a swimming race for all the kids ages ten and under. They had to enter the adult pool and swim its length. Jon took off and was flashing down the lane. Soon, he was out front! I was cheering for him and leaning against the guy next to me. He kept murmuring, “He’ll never make it. He’ll never make it…” But Jon persevered and came in first—far ahead of the others. I was so proud, I actually squealed!

Jeanne Roden

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Health and Well-being

22 Feb

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Dear Reader,

If you happened into Meeting Room A at the North Austin YMCA, you’d see a friendly group of folks with coffee mugs and bright, warm sunlight illuminating the room. You’d hear the intermittent sounds of weights dropping on the ceiling above. You’d be privy to amazing stories and poems and plenty of laughter. If you’re a single lady in her mid-thirties, like me, you might even receive some encouraging dating advice. Most of all, though, you’d feel this writing group’s infectious positivity and easy generosity. What better place to be reminded of the importance of health and well-being than at the YMCA in a room full of some of the most kind-hearted people you could possibly meet. I’ve found their words to be as revitalizing as a daily dose of vitamin C.

Get ready to feel rejuvenated.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Sunny Day

Happy to see the sun shine
This morning the clouds were gray
But the sun was bright and warm
A good morning for
Walking
Nice to hear
The sounds of morning
That seem to increase with the sunlight
That I listen to and hear the
Noises the household makes

Bob Russell

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Falling Pen

– an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

I rose while books
Tempted my pen falling
Out

My life

A gypsy     circle

Bob Russell

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Memories

There are emotions that at times are
rekindled—reminding us of what was,
what brought forth joy, what is
savored—those feelings that move
us forward—or, cherished as they are
or were, are stored in the keepsake
box of our heart.

Love is probably the most dominant—
It is the emotion that creates, consolidates,
and holds us together. This can be said
of friendship, short term or years in length,
one that shares the ups and downs of everyday.
Every day there is the echo of my grandchildren
as they prep for school, return home, tackle homework,
and joyously share their day—ups and downs,
all arounds. What more can I ask for.

Helen Haynes

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Where the Wind Blows

an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

Advantages
Follow your genius
White sands—pleasant sunshine—
Free wind blows—
Life—everlasting

Helen Haynes

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Appreciation

It is good to be alive because there are
so many things to see. I see the sun rising
in the morning, I see stars in the sky.
What more could you want to see?
I would like to see a jet fly in the sky
on a sunny day. I would like to see
clouds float by after
a summer storm. There are wonderful
things to see. If I would stop long
enough to see.

Ed Stephens

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The Pond

– an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

At least I rose enough to see
white sands from the pond.

Ed Stephens

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Turtles Sunning

I live along Brushy Creek in Round Rock, Texas. It’s a place I have become quite fond of. I like to walk along the creek enjoying the tree-lined banks, walking upstream to the Round Rock and continuing further upstream to a place I call “Turtle Cove.” It’s a name I gave to the area where turtles like to gather and sun themselves on the banks of the creek. I always count the number of turtles on the bank.  Yesterday, I counted forty-five turtles sunning themselves on the bank. It was a good number, better than I had seen for some time. It made me happy to see them again.

Alan T. Sagen

 

Equality

On Saturday, I saw the
hordes of woman and even
children descending on
Washington, D.C., in celebration
of the Women’s March for
Equality.

Marian Fleming

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On Living in Downs, Kansas

Downs is a small town in Northern Kansas
just off of Highway 24. The town has one movie theater.
Many local farmers come to Downs on Saturday
nights to go to the one movie theater and drugstore.

Bruce Fink

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View of Life Near Nature

 – an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

A gypsy’s pack,
where free wind blows, a three-legged table where
blackberry vines run around its legs.

Bruce Fink

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Blossom

It’s good to be alive to hear
the birds sing, to be with my
children and grandchildren, to
be able to do fun things with
them, to watch them grow
and live their lives,
for them to be happy.

Heather De Loyo

American Values

22 Feb

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

For many, the act of reading is the process of making connections with the past and with one’s memories. For this group of writers, writing is an essential element in that process. Through a series of four workshops, these writers shared their stories and memories, and made connections to the world beyond our classroom space. I hope you will experience similar connections as you read the following pieces. They are a gift to us all.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Foreigners

America never was a truly
integrated government to me!
Rather, it was separated and corrosive to many
People of Color and those considered
“foreigners,” although all persons
came from other countries at one
time. Native Americans are the true
Americans, run over by those “foreigners”
from other countries: immigrants.

BJ

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An Ocean Postcard

The waves are indicative of life’s ebb and flow.
The crashing waves are life’s difficulties and road blocks,
plus the termination of one’s life against the rocks.
Water returns to the ocean to start the
life process over.
The ocean is the provider of life.

BJ

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Freedom

To me, America will be home of the free.
I was born in a country
far away.
India was the
name.
We won our freedom
from the British
after two hundred years
of servitude.
It is a country with
mountains, hills, and plains,
and peoples of different
languages and religions.

Mala

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Let America Be What It Was Proposed to Be

But it’s never been that yet.
There was a military faction from the beginning.
There is still such a faction.
With weapons being used against each other,
With proposals of a wall going up to separate us,
With marching and slogans coming out,
Against our proposed freedom.
Can we not talk together, together to
Be friends, to love each other?
We do love each other, but we must all
Know what love is. Let us smile and
Be friends, forever, together.

Jennifer

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Kolaches

I taste their beauty.
They have been make the right way,

by my grandmother,

with her flour,
with her butter,

with her hands,
with her soul.

Jennifer

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America

America has always been America.
I can never believe America will ever change.

Farms and ranchers, homes—I always think
about the wonderful life we all have
shared living in America!

I pray for everyone who comes to
America—regardless of race or any other factor!
America has given memories to many people,
memories people may not have in other countries.

Sherril

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My Name

My first name is Michael. My middle name is Theodore. I had two older brothers, a sister, and one younger brother. My family is Hispanic, from northern New Mexico. All of my cousins are named after grandparents or uncles and aunts. My parents had five kids—none named for relatives (heaven forbid).

Michael

Healing Waters and Woods

22 Feb

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

When I first began working with the Memory Connections group at Westlake Presbyterian Church, many of them tried to convince me that they were by no means writers, and I felt like it would be my job to convince them otherwise over the next four weeks. By the end of that first class, they had convinced me that the creative spirit lived in all of them, as demonstrated by their purity of insight and beautiful construction of our language into something uniquely theirs. Then my role became helping them to draw out that creativity, to tap those wells, and to act as a medium for those who found it difficult to transcribe the vastness of their thoughts onto the page. They rose to every challenge presented to them with good humor, passion, and unflagging support of one another. These folks overcame physical and mental boundaries to produce work that humbled and inspired me each week. Walls were broken down, tears were shed, and powerful stories and poems emerged, works that felt like they’d been hiding inside these writers for years, just waiting to come out.

Julie Howd
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Reflective Forest

I am walking through the woods of Arkansas. It is early in the morning, and there is a soft breeze and light fog. I have explored these woods on many occasions, and on each exploration I always find something new or exciting.

As I sit quietly, I hear the snapping of a branch and then slowly, a beautiful doe steps into the meadow. Her brown eyes dart back and forth, and her nose sniffs for any unusual odor. Once satisfied, she bends to eat the soft green grass.

Two blue birds sweep by, settle on a branch, and begin clacking and speaking to each other. They snap up insects as they fly by. Suddenly, a large owl settles onto a branch, and the other birds quickly fly away. All is quiet again, except for the buzzing of insects.

I think of the times I have walked through these same woods with my father, wife, and children. Each memory is etched with emotion and wonder.

At times like this, you remember the times you have been harsh and immediately regret your transgressions. I think of the love I have received from my mother, father, and grandparents.

I walk back home as afternoon fades, and I remind myself to try to return the love that I have received from my family and friends. I also give a short prayer of appreciation for the Marines I treated in Vietnam. At times, the only thing I could do was to hold their hands as life slowly slipped away. As the tears slip down my cheeks, I realize how lucky I was to have loved ones I could relate to.

As the deer walk out of the woods, I slowly walk back to the camp where the Marines are currently entrenched and look to the time when I can be home again with my wife and family.

Charles W.

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Backyard

Playing basketball with my brothers
We’d hide out from my parents
The smell, sound, and taste of BBQ
Throwing balls to the dog
Riding bikes
Walking with Stephanie

Keith P.

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Find Your Way Home

The wild geese, heading home again,
Soar in the clear blue sky.
Listen to their calls.
Follow the sound as long as your ears allow,
Knowing the world is in your heart,
And your heart fits perfectly into the universe.
You and the geese love what you love,
And will find home soon.

Carol Y.

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Dock Time

Penguins jump in and out of the water.
They glide in and out of the sea.
I sit on the dock and watch as the kite
flies over the ocean, and the breeze is cool and green.
When the sun comes out, I put on my hat
and go have a beer.

Bill B.

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Green

Green is the color that says there is life!
Leaves in the spring ripple with green stripes.

All the green in the leaves provides rich nutrients
that bring more green and life to all.

Green provides food for all and beautiful growth.
Green makes me think of color to soon arrive.

Susan W.

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Cerulean Sea

The aqua blue sea calmly washed ashore over the smooth, sandy beach in this bay, while around the point, it was crashing wildly like a drunken sailor. Looking out through the waves, there was unlimited space under massive thunderclouds. Nothing else to see or do today but enjoy the coolness of the aqua colors surrounding me as I stood there in the buff.

Logan M.

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An Ode to an Orange

You begin as green but end as an
orange orange.

Art U.

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Ah! Purple

Royalty seeks it, all others too.
As for desire and reproduction, PURPLE stimulates too!
Blue is desire and forward-looking, drawing purple.
Its love for humanity outweighs its care of self: a handsome one.
Other emotions—yellow, say—flow to it, emit from it.
Fit for personal use, an irresistible flow
of ebbing brightness.

Royalty adapts it to its position.
LOVE! Ah, sweet love,
filled with passion is chosen and warm,
carried and cared for, romantically calling
emotion, defining akin to a love.
All love should share
in this purple… this love.

Ed M.

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Elegance

Gently in water
Dive deeply, quietly, alone—
Model elegance.

John A.

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Red, White, and Blue!

The flag and patriotism.
Red is hot. The feeling of anger.
White is neutral. The feeling of purity.
Blue is feeling. The feeling of sadness.
Red, white, and blue signifies gratitude
for country. The U.S.A.!

Carl M.

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Back Deck of Our Cottage: Glen Arbor, Michigan

Relaxing in my favorite chair on the back deck of our cottage in Michigan, I can often watch and hear the squirrels running along the top runner of our fence and chipmunks racing across our deck. Our heart-shaped flower garden contains beautiful flowers with a border of stones from the local quarry. The clear blue sky and breezes from Lake Michigan relax me. It is the perfect place to read, contemplate, and appreciate our good fortune and the beauty of nature.

Boyd S.

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Kerry Green

Dear Mike,

I am writing from Muckross House in County Kerry, Ireland today—September 3, 2011. The house is yellow brick and quite large and sits on a lake. It is a beautiful estate with a vast green lawn and many trees starting to turn fall colors. There are people near the lake taking a horse and buggy ride. There are others playing croquet on the lawn.

It is a beautiful sunny day. The air is fresh and full of the happy sounds of people and animals. I love hearing the lilt of the Irish brogue and the smiles of locals as they go about their daily tasks. The tour guide is speaking of the family obtaining their wealth from shipping things to and from the continent. They have a lovely greenhouse that grows vegetables and plants for the estate.

It takes twenty-five workers to run this vast estate. Only ten live on the grounds. The others commute from nearby. The estate also has a large barn of race horses that are worked and trained on the grounds for the upcoming race deep in Kerry. Everyone is proud of what they contribute to the estate’s successful running.

We will have tea in the back garden since it is such a nice day. They will serve bread and cheese and small sweets to the guests. I am happy, wanting to sing a ditty. This trip has been relaxing and restful. Hope all is well at home. I will see you next week.

Love and God Bless,
Patsy

Patsy K.

So Proud

8 Nov

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Delightful WellMed writers
imagining wistful creatures of the sea
and afternoons with woodsy critters
hunting food for the family dinner.

So proud of their heritage, their freedom,
their ability to write special stories
and share their precious memories.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives
and your wonderful poetic works.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Inspiring Objects

This colorful crab was given to me as a gift from a friend who had recently visited the beach. Looking at all the amazing colors made my day brighter. Even though it’s a wooden crab, it still made me smile. I think it was the eyes.

I had my best vacations at the beach. I loved to sit on the sand and watch the waves roll in. People-watching was also fun! I always loved the sun and just had to have a tan. Then it was a relief to get into the water and cool off. Thank you, Mr. Crab, for some fond memories.

Jane Baran

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Inspiring Objects

I am a doll made of wood,
with a dress of cream, red, and blue,
and hair black as coal.
I came from Mexico or Spain.

A surprise awaits you when you open me up—
tiny replicas of little people,
not from China, but Spain.

Mala Bhattacharyt

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Colors of the Season

A scene of trees, vacant piece of property,
vacancies of smooth water in the cool evening.
Summer is over, but the cold hasn’t quite arrived.
The grey clouds cover the sleeping scene
as the sun tries to peek through a few places.

The sun wants to come through—
it’s trying, but it may not.
Stillness.

Jennifer Martinec

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The Bobcat

I see a wild animal in the fall season, looking out for danger. There is a nice background of trees. The Bobcat in the foreground is looking for friends—perhaps a lady friend, who promised to stop by. The setting might be around Hutto, Texas, with its brushy creeks. There, I never saw a bobcat, but plenty of squirrels.

I was a young boy of eleven, just old enough to shoot a rifle with my father. He dropped me off and then headed to the beer joint. Until dark, I hunted squirrel for dinner. I felt excited and trusted by my father and was proud to help feed my mother and four sisters.

Jay Westmoreland

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The Flag

Red, white, blue.
The American flag—
Liberty, freedom, unity.
Freedom and honor.

Michael Serna

Rich with Experience

8 Nov

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

There’s no doubt the writers in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran have great stories to tell. This group of writers is as diverse as they are lively, having lived all over the world, from Tokyo to Texas. In their writing, you can feel their rich experiences culminate in the beauty of a simple line about the smell of autumn. The power of their struggle with memory loss is always present, just below the surface, as these writers bravely delve into their pasts to bring forth these poems. There is never a dull moment in this poetry, as it expresses the Hope Lutheran group’s bright attitude toward life and adventurous spirit, something that is truly inspiring to encounter. Their writing is lively, comical, tender, and honest. It is starkly sad and bubbling over with joy all at once. It rhymes, meanders, repeats itself. It goes into the RV to watch the Aggies game. It talks to nature, and to God. These poems are a pure expression of both the simplicity of life and its magnificent vastness, of which we are forever in awe.

Claire Bowman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Fall Is Wonderful

Brown, brown, brown…
Showing up on our trees!
Yellow, yellow, yellow bushes,
those bright flowers on very green,
very tall bushes, waving in the wind’s arms.

Again, I go to the color yellow
found on the ears of corn sitting
on the kitchen counter.
Their taste, their crunchiness,
their bright and beautiful color
all make me happy.

I know corn comes in other
colors: white, red, or brown.
But don’t we all love yellow the most?

Pat Keen

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From April, May to June

The sun, everything is blooming.
Flowers are blooming,
The weather is beautiful.
Not too hot, not too cold,
Nice and cool and fresh.
You can enjoy walking in the evening,
Sitting in sidewalk cafés,
Enjoying the people-watching
And the fresh air of the evening.

I’m sitting in the sidewalk café
Where they make grilled shish-kabobs.
I’m drinking red wine with my vegetable salad —
Not too much, just enough
To enjoy everything there.
It makes me feel at home.

Sarita Mais

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Catching Trout in My Hometown Waters

I see a babbling stream of water
In my state of Wisconsin.
I hear the sound of the water rushing over
The rocks in the stream. Frogs croaking
And birds singing.
I feel a cool breeze.
I think to myself — how to plan
Catching a big trout under the water
Near the pine trees?
I wonder how many trout are available
Today. Should I cast closer to the shore?
I wait for a response from my cast.
Did I see one near my bait?
Try again and again until I get my catch.
Reel him in.

John Zimmerman

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Snow-Capped Mountains

I see wonderful shadows in the water
And blended colors that magnify
The beauty of colored images in the water.
I feel magnificent colored images defining
The images in the water.
I think to myself, “I want
To take in all of the images,
Including those in the water,”
And I wonder if the quiet beauty
Can be maintained with time.

Bill Hoisington

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Summer!

The sun is shining! Every day is an adventure. Should we go swimming? The joy of jumping into the cold water, knowing we shall go back out into the warmth and beauty of the sun. What a sensation and awakening to the joy of nature. The flowers bloom everywhere, sheltered in part by the glorious trees surrounding them. Life is good! Going home to dinner or eating a picnic on the beach, swimming and making sandcastles. Having an ice cream cone on the way home, licking it succulently, enjoying its cool flavour. Tired and satisfied, we go to bed thinking of the days to come!

We go out the next day to play with our friends, telling them about our journey, about visiting the fish-and-chip shop for lunch, a treat for all, including Mom, who didn’t have to cook. We meet friends on the beach and promise to see them tomorrow. Into bed, mother telling us a bedtime story or a poem she wrote several herself, which ushered us to sweet dreams of tomorrow, swimsuits and towels hung up on the clothesline to dry. Happiness and contentment abound. Everyone got up early the next day in anticipation of going again to the beach, a beach ball in one arm and towels in the other.

Audrey Krier

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Autumn

The crisp, cool air
The reds, the yellows
When walking on the leaves
The crunch, the burning
Of leaves, the fun of rolling
Through dry leaves, playing in the streets
The crisp, cool air, the leaves
Falling off the trees, the kiss
Of Autumn cool
The taste of waning
The laughter of adults
Do not attempt to change
The feel of Autumn.

Lyle Erickson

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Texas Longhorns

I see Bevo.
I hear thousands of people yelling at the UT Stadium.
I feel the UT band playing, my daughter Mary,
Who played in the Longhorn band for four years.
I think to myself of those wonderful days
Of football at UT, and I wonder
what it will be like in the years to come.

Lee Roy S.

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My Deer Love

A startled deer,
Fat and tender.
My little deer will soon surrender.
I hear only silence and stillness,
Quiet and peace—
Yes, a great big piece of juicy, tender meat!
In awe of the beauty, elegance,
And size of this creature—
I hope this bullet will go far enough to reach her.
I think to myself… I’m hungry.
I can’t miss.
This buck is toast!
And I’m sure this dinner
Is going to be a winner!
I wonder how long it will take
To dress her, and cook a little venison for dinner!

Rick Guilbeau

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The Winter’s Elk 

I see a HUGE elk standing so very still
In the white snow.
He is observing me, hopefully,
With great interest.
I smile widely, but don’t move.

I hear him give a snort.
Vapor comes form his nose.
I see him pawing with one great hoof,
As if sending a message to me.

I feel he’s as curious about my existence
As I am about his.
And I think to myself, “What if
I smile broadly, tilt my head,
And wink…”

I wonder what he will tell his family when
He gets home.
I know what I’m telling mine!

Jeanne Roden

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Winter Creation

I see a beautiful snapshot of Nature,
The cold water near the cushions
Of winter snow, and the tall stone-ledge
Mountains, now holding tiers of ice
And snow.

I hear in the still, quiet beauty — no
Sound, only beauty seen above and
Upon the surface, a Revelation
Of the cold, quiet lake.

I feel a still nothingness that holds me
As I gaze upon reflections of
The beauty and majesty that surrounds me.

I think to myself… This is a precious moment.
I must stop and be in this picture of Earth,
Of Creation.

I wonder if I will ever lose the wonder of this moment.
I think not.
It is a moment in eternity.

Elizabeth E. Flynn

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Autumn Mornings 

Crisp, cool sunrises
Coming over the mountain.

Orange, yellow, green, brown
Colors being blown around
In the fresh breeze.

Children high on the rocks
As the sun starts to lower in the evening.

We go into our RV to watch
The Texas Aggies game.

We enjoy the outdoors,
The coyotes howling in the mountains.
Now, let’s go to bed.

Bobby Pruitt

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Autumn (By Far!) 

Hot, humid summer is gone.
With less sweating, we can run!

Even in Texas, we have colors,
And it costs so few dollars!

Now that temperatures are lower,
We use much less of the mower!

Autumn has so much more food,
And everything tastes so good!

That we really enjoy life,
And again, again, I love my wife!

Manny Chavez

We, Not Me

8 Nov

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

I used to think writing was one of the lonelier activities one could endeavor to undertake. Not so. Even at this moment as I write alone in a small windowless office, I hear the voices of the workshop participants I shared Mondays with at the North Austin YMCA. I am reminded that writing is a means for regaining a sense of connectedness.

One memory in particular sticks out. I’d asked participants to come up with a short list of words of wisdom they’d either given or received at some point in their lives. To be honest, as one who falls (unwilling) under the umbrella of “millennial,” my own list included phrases such as follow your dreams, never give up, and do what you love. I was thrown for a loop when one participant, Eva, shared what were her most valuable words of wisdom:

  • Help those in need in any way you can.
  • Learn about the challenges of others and find ways to help.

I think my jaw fell open. I realized then that I’d become so entrenched in the daily to-dos of my life, that I was so focused on the “me,” I’d completely forgotten about the “we.”

While not everyone in our workshop was able to use the tools of writing (pens and paper) — the physical act of writing either too painful or too frustrating — everyone was able to enjoy and participate in a communal atmosphere of language, or “creative discussion,” as we called it. Words floating in the air are just as valuable as words pinned to a page. Living in the moment is just as important as recording it. Listening to each other’s stories is just as significant as telling stories of our own. And like water washing over stone, everything that we do changes us a little. I was changed. And I believe storytelling always gives back to the community, the “we” that is so essential to all of us.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Out My Window, I Remember

Mother red cardinal, dark red. I saw her bring stray leaves and sticks to make her nest. She’d been found nesting in another nest in my backyard, and her last family stayed nearby. When it came time to nest with a new generation of eggs, she made a new one in a tall shrub near my door. At the time, I was in the hospital after open heart surgery number two. I came by to pick up something to wear besides PJs. They were teaching the babies to fly. I don’t wear perfume, so they didn’t sense me nearby. I covered my mouth with a soft pillow and watched the parents teach the young cardinals to take flight.

On vacation, touring nine states to see state parks and watch the acid spring water blow from its geyser, I was awoken and saw the most beautiful view I have ever seen. The sky was so beautiful, with so many colors, in fact, that I momentarily questioned if the world was coming to an end. And God would be next.

Emmaline Jones

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Rabbit Ring

The object that means the world to me and is particular in its value of longevity is the ring I wear on the middle finger of my right hand. It is made out of unpolished silver and depicts a four-footed beast with two long ears, a tail, and four long feet, a rabbit given to me by a former boyfriend, who told me to always keep my eye on the rabbit, a reference to greyhound racing.

Marian Fleming

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My Desk

My hand-carved oriental desk, which belonged to my mother’s mother, Da, as we grandchildren called her. Mom and I were with her on our first trip to Hawaii in 1949. We visited a distant cousin of hers living in Honolulu. Aboard the plane, Da became ill, was given a blood transfusion — wrong type — so after the hospital stay, we lived in a typical neighborhood. There was a Dutch refugee family with a little girl who had several deformities due to the lack of protein in WWII; a Hawaiian family on the opposite side with several children; and, us, in the middle — a league of nations! Children just played, using simple toys we either shared or created — language was no barrier — children just play!

When I sit at this desk, corresponding with family and friends back in California, I have a space of my own, an area to touch back in time, an area to create in, an area that is all mine.

Helen G. Haynes

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Character Sketch

My lifelong friend, Kathryn Ruth, a.k.a. Kathy, has been in my life since third grade — this is equivalent to sixty-five years. In forth grade, we said goodbye. Why, you ask? Each family was leaving Ojai, California. How our mothers kept their secret was amazing, for we (young friends) were devastated by our loss. After our new home was ready to move in to, I found out that Kathy was merely four houses down the block from me.

Over the course of these past sixty-plus years, we’ve shared weddings, the births of our children, high school, and college graduations. Then came the children’s weddings — some in Ventura, California, one on the Big Island of Hawaii. And now we celebrate our grandchildren’s birthdays — all seven of them. My eldest, Sean, twenty-three, U.S. army, down to Paige and Andrew, nine; hers Ava, eleven; Elsie, nine; Vianne, eight; and Shepard, six.

Helen G. Haynes

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Out My Window, I Remember

Long ago, I lived on a farm in Ireland surrounded by many trees of different kinds, meadows with sheep and rabbits crawling around, an orchard with many kinds of apples, pears, and plums, and an avenue surrounded by moss weeds.

Eva Church

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My Husband

One object that means a lot to me is the photo of my husband. He gave it to me, and I love it a lot. In the photo, he’s twenty-six.

Heather H. de Loyo

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Sewing

My objects are useful… scissors for snipping fabric samples and a tape measure for knowing how much to cut out for sewing.

I don’t sew clothing for myself anymore. My shape has shifted!

But I now sew pig pillows, the first choice of hospital patients, requested by chaplains and Ouch Buddies for children at the Ronald McDonald House — squeezable when getting a shot. And pillows for those same children in bright colors.

Ruth Crowson

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Words of Wisdom 

Wait. Wait for beauty, for buds blooming out
of season. For secondhand gloves full of memories.
For music by piano and music by flute.
For looms weaving our loves. Beauty
in love, and love in beauty. Love in
music, and music in love.

Ruth Crowson