Friday, September 28, 2007

Autumn Rain

Last weekend, our family decided to drive up a local canyon to enjoy the beautiful fall colors. This only took a few minutes, since we live near the base of several mountains. On this particular day, it decided to rain. By the time we reached our destination, a place called Maple Canyon, it was pouring.

My husband, oldest son, and brother-in-law, all decided to hop out of the truck anyway. I sat inside the shelter of the truck for a few minutes, debating on whether or not I wanted to get wet. Then I realized something, I was missing out. There were colorful leaves everywhere and I couldn't adequately appreciate what was there, until I moved beyond my comfort zone.

I captured some of the most beautiful pictures that I've ever taken as a result. And something of an analogy. Sometimes we have to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone to see the good and positive things that still exist in this crazy world. It's scary, leaving our fears behind to embrace the moment, but as I'm finding, it's definitely worth the effort.

Autumn Rain

A kaleidoscope of color
Whirling in a blend
Greens, yellows, reds and oranges
Combining without end

Brilliant hues abound
Upon the radiant hills
Beckoning in sunshine
And during cloudburst spills

Rain falls fast and furious
Darkening the sky
Filling empty creek beds
With a quiet lullaby

A farewell toast to summer
As fall moves center stage
Iridescent colors hinting
It’s time to turn the page.

Cheri J. Crane
Sept. 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Origins of Twang

Today's blog may cause a bit of controversy. I realize some of you are country music fans, and there's nothing wrong with that. I just prefer other styles of music like classical, soft rock, some jazz, and classic hits from groups like: BTO, Journey, Supertramp, etc. Call me a product of the 70's, those glory days when country music was frowned upon. =)

Enough said, without further ado, here is the saga of Cowboy George. (Incidentally, the illustration for this particular poem was sketched by one of my talented sisters, Heather J. Littell.)

Cow-Times on the Open Plains
(Or the Origins of Country Twang)

Cowboy George sat pondering upon his faithful steed—
Blissfully he was aware, cow-herding fulfilled his every need.
He’d named them all, it was his way, each cow was precious to his sight,
He ever strived to please them, morning, noon, and night.

He wrote a poem, the cows were bored, he tried to paint instead—
The cows, they merely turned their backs, the cowboy hung his head.
He read them books, they turned away; he danced, they scoffed and smirked,
No matter what our hero tried, nothing seemed to work.

"Oh, woe is me," he sadly cried, "Oh, woe and woe again!"
The cows’ ears perked, they were impressed, by sounds of nasal twang.
They gathered enraptured at his feet, imploring him to sing,
He beamed at his discovery; he’d invented a wondrous thing.

And so at night, and oft times day, he strummed his wood guitar—
Adding, of course, his nasal voice, to thrill cows near and far.
His fame soon spread, the passion grew, his style was copied and often shared,
Country music had been born, cow relationships were repaired.

The years have passed, changes have come, new styles of music persist—
But bestill our hearts, no need to fear, country twang still lies within our midst.
And so we say, upon reflection, our hearts with great sincerity ring,
"Why didn’t the cows trample George before he thought to sing?!"

Cheri J. Crane

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ode to Decrepit Bodies

A little over ten years ago I climbed a mountain behind my house. I live in a mountain valley (Bear Lake) and it was decreed that our stake YM\YW super summer activity would include climbing Baldy Mountain. (There are no trees on top of this mountain, hence it's name) Since I was serving in YW at the time, and I had a plethora of Mia Maids egging me on, I participated in this wondrous event. Long story short, I struggled making the climb. One leg completely shut down and I climbed the final portion of that mountain sitting down. I turned around, facing away from the mountain, and pulled myself up the rest of the way with my arms.

Not long after this adventure, I formed painful, strange looking lumps on both legs. A local doctor freaked, certain I had a form of bone cancer. Two out of town specialists vetoed that verdict; I was informed that I had lupus. It was explained that this is why I'm a Type 1 diabetic, and why I have a form of rheumatoid arthritis. The lumps on my legs were a result of a major arthritic flare, possibly triggered by my attempt to climb a mountain. Silly me.

I've found in my life that keeping a sense of humor about things is a great survival tool. I often find humor in items most people find less than funny. The poem I'm sharing today is an example of this tendency. (Incidentally, the word in the first verse, 3rd line, it as intended. Clime is my twist on "climate," not the "climb" that led to so much fun.)

Ode to Decrepit Bodies

Life is full of challenges, of this I will admit---
Most of mine are due to my body throwing a major fit.
It doesn't like the environment, it doesn't like the clime---
It doesn't like anything, I've noticed, most of the time!

Now I wouldn't really mind this, my spirit is a sport---
But the way my body's behaving, our time together will be short!
If things don't go quite its way, temper tantrums are often thrown---
If there ever was a doubt about who's boss, I'm surely being shown.

Joints stiffen, lumps appear, my blood sugar drops too low---
As my body makes it clear to me that some things have to go!
No more playing dodge ball, no more riding bikes uphill,
No more climbing mountains, it's against my body's will.

No more running with my boys, no more sitting on hard chairs---
It's really starting to irk me, the way my body's putting on these airs!
It hates the cold, it hates all storms, and loudly it complains---
I could be a forecaster; I always know when it snows and rains.

Somehow I have to reach a truce with this body I've been given---
Even though it's challenging enduring this life-style that we're livin'.
Never fear, I'll persevere when my body gets in the way,
Eventually I'll have my revenge on resurrection day!

Cheri J. Crane

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Wonder in the Land

Time for the lighter side of life. I believe this poem is self-explanatory.

A Wonder in the Land

I have a lot in common with a rabbit from Wonderland---
Constantly I check my watch, hoping others will understand.
The words he exclaimed, I call my own as I strive to not be late,
My world is full of craziness, a total frenzied state.

Life has picked up speed it seems, I'm on an inside track---
Always pushing forward, there is no turning back.
On and on I hurry, glancing at the time,
Wondering if sanity will again be mine.

A day-planner is my life-line, missing an obligation is my dread,
The phrase that haunts me most these days: "OFF WITH THAT WOMAN'S HEAD!"

Cheri J. Crane

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Moments Frozen in Time

I suspect everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing the morning of September 11, 2001. Today as a myriad of memorial services pay homage to those who lost their lives on that day, our hearts may feel a tug as we reflect on the tremendous loss our nation suffered.

On April 19, 2005, another national tragedy took place. Most referred to it as the Oklahoma City Bombing. The explosion that rocked our nation on that day claimed the lives of 168 people, some of them children.

As is often the case, I wrote a poem to purge what I was feeling. The poem below is the result. It seems to also fit what took place on 9-11. I originally entitled it, "Thoughts on April 19, 1995. Today I will rename it as follows:

A Phoenix Will Arise

Can a phoenix arise
From the ashes of darkened skies
Despite the sound of heart-felt cries
That echo across the land?

Can we ever understand
The hatred that exists in man
To cause destruction by his hand
Singeing hearts with fires of hate?

What is to the be the fate
Of those who now grieve and wait
Hoping that it's not too late
For loved ones missing still?

Ever burns the iron will
Of valiant souls who'll endure until
Hope is gone and cries are shrill
When precious life is gone.

There will be another dawn
The strong will learn to carry on
Despite heavy hearts; faces drawn
A phoenix will arise.

Cheri J. Crane

Friday, September 7, 2007

Life's Storms

Lately it seems that numerous storms of all varieties have descended without warning. Here in Bear Lake Valley, we have seen our fair share of weird weather. Bizarre frosts, dust storms, wind strong enough to knock out the power, etc. Just a couple of days ago, my husband called from work to alert me to the fact that our entire area was experiencing a tornado watch. This is a rare occurrence for a mountain valley. Bear Lake Valley came through with flying colors during this particular storm, but in nearby Soda Springs, close to the Monsanto plant where my husband works, a tornado did in fact descend. For more details regarding this, see this link:

There are other storms that descend into our lives, varying trials that challenge our peace of heart and mind. As I've mentioned in other posts, several of my friends and family members have been enduring storms of this nature. This kind of tempest can inspire fear, sorrow, and doubt. And yet, if we truly believe that we are beloved children of a loving Heavenly Father, we would cling to hope, to the knowledge that no matter what we're facing, if we'll utilize faith, we can and will survive.

This is a lesson I am constantly learning. Sometimes I need reminded that sudden squalls stretch us in ways not possible in any other fashion. But while the rain descends and the lightening flashes, fear is prone to surface.

During one such storm, I turned to a favorite form of coping, I began writing out what I was feeling. Still grieving over my father's untimely death, on a day when sorrow took the helm, I sat down to write a pity song. And as often happens, Someone Else had other plans. It became a song of hope.

I later performed this song at a fund-raiser for local education needs. It seemed to touch a chord. I was asked to record it for a collaborated work for Bear Lake Valley. Varied singers from our area joined together to perform songs of a positive nature. The title of my song was used as the title of the cassette: Colors of the Rainbow.

To me, the rainbow is a symbol of hope, an indication that all storms will eventually come to an end, and though we may believe otherwise, we are never alone.

Colors of the Rainbow

1st: Ev'ry so often, storms will come our way,
Sometimes they'll stay forever, sometimes for just a day---
And when the wind is howling and the clouds block out the sun,
And the crackling sound of lightening, strikes fear in everyone,
Hold on tight together as the rain starts pouring down,
For the colors of the rainbow will soon come, shining 'round.

2nd: Ev'ry so often, trials will come our way,
Sometimes they'll stay forever, sometimes for just a day---
And when your heart is breaking and the pain blocks out life's light,
And the hope for a new tomorrow, never seems in sight,
Hold on to one another as the rain starts pouring down,
For the colors of the rainbow will soon come, shining 'round.

Cheri J. Crane

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Reunion Bliss

The last fling with summer pastimes has come and gone. Labor Day weekend often heralds last minute camping trips, hurried visits to local theme parks, and possibly a family reunion of sorts. With that in mind, I will now share a poem I wrote years ago concernng the joy of reunions.

Reunion Bliss

It's reunion time---the whole family rejoices,
Except for my husband, it's not one of his choices.
He seems to feel that they ruin the summer
And when the invitations come, he says it's a bummer!

"If I want to see someone, I'll go to their house,
"I don't like to forced!" He's such a fun spouse.
And when the grand day arrives, how I've sweated and slaved,
Almost as much as he's ranted and raved:

"I am not going! Did you hear me? I'm not!
"I cannot be bribed, nor can I be bought!"
Ignoring his "growl" I just load the car
And hand him the keys, with the door left ajar.

He grudgingly follows, complaining all the way,
Lest I assume he might enjoy the blessed day.
"This is ridiculous, I don't know anyone,"
"I'll sit and waste time, and I'll never have fun."

Violins seem to play as he shares his sad tale,
Even our boys seem impressed with his wail.
Soon we arrive, the boys and food are unloaded,
Relatives approach---has my husband exploded?

Much to my amazement, as it happens each year,
He talks to these people as if they were dear.
"Why Uncle Henry, is it really you?"
"Cousin Leroy, stop by next time through!"

And so it goes, on and on---
Until evening descends and most everyone's gone.
We load up the car and as we pull out leave,
My husband says something I have yet to believe:

"That was really fun! We'll have to come next year!"
There's a tiny little part of me that can't believe he's sincere.
If only I could capture those precious words on tape,
We'd be in terrific reunion-going shape!

Cheri J. Crane