Saturday, April 30, 2011

“The Best Laid Plans”

            I plan. As long as I can remember, I’ve set specific goals that I aim to attain. In my youth, I designed a year plan, a five year plan, and a nebulous “someday” list of possibilities. For years, I’d jot these objectives on the last page of my journals, sometimes including deadline dates. Many of these targets focused on simple things like to pay off a credit card in six months, plant bushes for Mother’s Day, buy a new chair for the living room, or replace the fence. I love that one since it’s been on my lists for the last five years!
            Then the years came where the lists shifted more to living goals: Harmony-not perfection, Count the good days, Listen carefully, Let it go. I imagine this shift came because I never crossed some items off the lists, never reached the goals. Or maybe I came to realize that some of those items never go away. There’s always something to buy or repair around a home. I like to think that my aspirations shifted into making myself a better person.
            During the last couple of years, the lists stopped altogether. I don’t want to remind myself that my washer and dryer approach year twenty-five and should be replaced. Also, I don’t want to shift into the future too far. Many days, I slip into survival mode where making it through the next twenty-four hours with grace and understanding seems enough of a focus for me. Those of you with elderly parents needing care understand this protective move. Planning ahead brings the possibility of too much loss and heartbreak. Instead, I’ve set aside my lists of goals because I know that within the next year, or even as little as six months, every plan could go awry.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, April 29, 2011

“Strings Attached”

young and unquestioning
my innocence drew you like a beacon
across the lake
flashing green with naiveté
beckoning for your awareness
my trust encouraged your deceit
allowing you to bind my soul
to your heartless control
artlessly I believed
the façade of friendliness and openness
not perceiving the glass walls
obstructing intimacy
not understanding false promises of family
affected affection fooled me
until I looked beyond your insincere smiles
and suffered the restraints
you attach to your love


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“Teapots and Faeries”



            My first teapot, a gift from my Aunt Esther, resides in my bedroom, tucked into a shelf with silk daisies sprouting from its top. I don’t think my aunt planned on the purchase, but who can resist the pleading green eyes of an eight-year-old asking for a teapot instead of toys? The pot, a plain brown Sadler from England, began a lifetime love of these wonderful vessels. Teapots became my well cherished gifts for Mother’s Day, Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries.
            The collection rotates through the house with special holiday teapots making seasonal appearances. My prized tea set, brought back from Japan by my grandfather in the 1920s, includes a gilded dragon teapot that captured my childish imagination and enchants me still. My teapots, purchased more for their uniqueness than their values, hold warm memories as well as hot tea.


   

        
           






           Back in 2002, my son (then sixteen) played a role playing game called Dark Age of Camelot with a guild filled with a remarkable mix of people. The guild suspended its eighteen-year-old or older requirement for members for Paul because they liked him so much. This eclectic group, with members from all around the United States and a few people from other countries, decided to host a LAN party in Shreveport, Louisiana and included Paul in their invitation. We decided to tag along and use the long weekend as a mini-vacation.
          Shreveport’s museums, rose garden, and casinos kept us fairly busy, but the antique shops and curio boutiques lured me into their potpourri havens. One shop, in particular, captivated me with its fantasy displays of dolls, stuffed animals, gnomes and faeries. Two statues beguiled me so much that I made a rare and indulgent purchase.
            Of course, my two faeries multiplied into a collection. The warrior set, that stands determined to battle, arrived one Christmas. Others appeared for special occasions while some flew into our home and perched on shelves and bookcases for no reason except to give me pleasure.


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

“My Husband Drives Me Batty!”

David with Pipistrel-Meghan
            Often, women claim that their husbands drive them batty, but in my case, the phrase takes on a new meaning. Little David loved bats from an early age. He took felt and fabric to construct his own “Teddy Bat”. He searched the school libraries for any books on bats, checking them out over and over again.
            By the time I met David, his passion for Chiroptera meant our “dates” often consisted of sitting by a field off Bat Cave road to watch the lively flutter of bats as they left Bracken Cave. Not long after we married, David joined Bat Conservation International, Inc. (http://www.batcon.org/) and pulled me into the world of bats with him.



Western Bats Poster
 by David Chapman
            As an artist, David designed several posters for BCI and the National Parks service on bats in different regions of the United States. He used his skills for a BCI Christmas card, some stickers, and the Discover Bats educational package. He illustrated books on how to care for and rehabilitate captive bats, too.

Townsen's Long-eared Bat
by David Chapman

Eventually, David registered his name on a list to aid injured bats. It surprised no one when he ended up keeping two pipistrels that couldn’t be released. These two bats visited local schools for years as David conducted his personalized “bat talks” for the children. Caring for bats isn’t easy. The two we had needed to be hand fed. That meant we couldn’t leave town unless we could take them with us, or arranged to train another person to feed them. David taught my father how to feed and care for out bats as our back-up system. My parents would come up to San Antonio, feed bats, cats, and dogs when we left town for more than a day.

Visiting Evening Bat!
            David’s zeal for bats introduced us to wonderfully dedicated scientists and volunteers. We met Merlin Tuttle, Amanda Lollar, and Barbara French. We volunteered long hours at Bracken Cave, cutting back weeds, laying trails, and doing grunt work. David Bamberger invited us along with other volunteers to Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve to witness the construction of The Chiroptorium (http://www.bambergerranch.org/).

Red Bat
by David Chapan

            Over the years, I couldn’t help but absorb some of David’s bat knowledge and bat enthusiasm. Many times we’ve hopped into our car (Paul, too) to run a rescue on a downed or injured bat. Since I’ve retired, I’ve fielded many phone calls from panicked homeowners about a bat on their porch or under a ledge. When we go to the cabin, the bat houses are checked for inhabitants, and I’ve gotten quite good at snapping pictures of a flight at dusk. Our home, too, has more than just David’s bat art on the walls. We never visit a shop without our eyes searching for a little bat to add to David’s collection. Even friends and family members purchase unusual sculptures or carvings and send them to us.
            My fondest memory, though, centers on the very first bat flight I witnessed at Bracken Cave, but I’ll save that story for another day!


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

“Divide Time”

divide time into before and after
measure lonely hours by tears and laughter
remember the freedom of hot desire
long for winter nights stretched by the fire
listen for rescuing rings of the phone
wait through the days and nights all alone
scream in silent despair and frustration
bury new needs in cold desperation
beg daily for help, no one heeds the plea
search for escape—for a safe place to flee
divide time into before and after
measure lonely hours by tears and laughter


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, April 25, 2011

“Flirt”


A crowded room
            conversations spilling out
                        along with cleavage
Eyes meet
            smoldering glances from afar
                        lashes lowered as blush spreads
Tongue tickles upturned lips
            in sensuous play
                        bottom lip captured in a pout
Maneuver clockwise
            lean closer
                        breath a whispered touch
Here and gone
            like smoke
                        before the fire

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Originally, I "flirted" with an idea for a poem that expressed how the writing process sometimes teases me. Obviously, the piece morphed into something different, yet the metaphor still exists.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

“We Will Walk”

We will walk all through the night
and talk of ways to make things right.
We will take the world we see
and make our dreams reality.

                        With the strength of our minds,
                        we’ll erase the hopeless sighs
                        of weary men as they try
                        to make a living—to survive.

                        We will fully eradicate
                        all the envy and the hate
                        that always seem to invade
                        the souls of men every day.

With our strength we can change
the way in which our life’s arranged.
Our belief in peace and grace
can save us from the working race.

                        Constant striving to be free
                        can only open destiny.
                        Endless groping in the night
                        will always lead us to the light.

                        We will live to see the day
                        when our children can safely play
                        in streets not torn with racial fears,
                        nor gutters flooded with our tears.

We will walk all through the night.

Copyright 1980 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Another older poem today to celebrate optimism! Although this piece was written nore than thirty years ago, it displays one of my fundamental beliefs--that we can make the world a better place.