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The Cat

He sits
close enough to my head
on the Red Couch
to be within reach
and to lick
the salt of my tears
off my hand
with his sandpaper tongue.

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Quote of the Day: “Dignity: The moment you live your dreams, not because of what it will prove or get you, but because that is all you want to do. ” — Shannon L. Alder

Daily gratitudes:
Tomatoes ripening on the vine (not mine this year)
The other house in my neighborhood with a metal winged pig
MKL
Kelsea’s happiness
Horseradish cheddar cheese toast for dinner
The return of Peyton Manning

This year, we have icicles on apple blossoms. I feel like that myself sometimes – a bloom encased in frost. I have been poked and prodded and scoped and smushed this week, all for the routine testing to ensure that I am not following in my Mother’s cancer-prone footsteps. And all appears to be well. Just one more test result to go. It is nice to be emerging from this long winter, and I feel changes coming. I am trying to get a grip on whether I want some things to change, and am making steps in some new directions as a writer. I am looking forward to consolidating houses with MKL, although that is an amazingly daunting process. And so looking forward to my sweet cousin coming to visit next month. The house will never have been cleaner. I’m actually enjoying spring cleaning, and have dug a garden bed. There’s a little azalea plant, and some johnny jump-ups, daisies, and globe basil in the sunroom. And my poinsettia seems to have survived repotting – it’s over eight years old now. My boss gave it to me when my Mother died, just before Christmas in 2005.

This seems to be all random stream of consciousness, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s the snowmelt of my mind.

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Louisville, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” — William Shakespeare

Daily gratitudes:
Cute babies
My bed
Ginger ale
Surprise flame roses from MKL
Opportunities

 

It was too cold to be out of bed. For someone.

Cat Tail

But we did emerge yesterday and had breakfast at Leenie’s.

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And did a little shopping. Who could resist this enticing sign?

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And yes, I did get some socks. And a creepy vintage Valentine.

Creepy Vintage Valentine

Along with a slightly freakish addition to the décor of the salle de bain. (Apologies for the blurry image.)

Creepy canoe child

I visited with an old roommate today and had an excellent snuggle.

Maeira

And now am properly attired for tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey.

Downton Hand

I am doing serious battle with the winter blues. Friday can’t come soon enough.

xo

How selfish mourning is.

It neither benefits nor honors the dead.

It will be nine years this year since I lost my father, and eight since I lost my mother. To all outward appearances, I am reconciled to that loss, which is all one can ever be. You never get over it, you just readjust.

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Mother

Except in dreams.

In dreams, such as last night’s, they live. And they die all over again.

Those are the worst dreams, where you go home, you see them, they give you food and advice, and you talk about when you can get time off work to see them again, the conscious self crossing swords with the unconscious self to accept and deny reality, and then, slowly in the dream, there comes the dawning that they are both dead.

It as if they have died all over again.  And in the dream, you have that same sense of endless emptiness that you experienced only then, in reality, except without the comforts of reality to sustain you. That feeling creeps into your waking consciousness and you awake, eyes closed, wondering where in the world you are, and why this weight is filling your closed eyes with tears and if the wind outside that is brushing the chimes is warm or cold.

You remember that your childhood house, now in dreams, strangely borrowed and restored to your memory of it, is now remodeled. The green shag carpet and the books are gone from the living room, the knotty pine cabinets and red cracked ice table are gone from the kitchen. The new owners have the put the refrigerator in a place that does not make sense.

You look out your bedroom window now, on a January day, and see that the snow has melted some, and know that there are daffodils eking their way out of the old ground somewhere, and remember the buttery smell of thousands of daffodils from your childhood.

You do not know what to do with yourself.

So you write about it, before you get up to feed the cat and make coffee. And you wonder about the weight of the human  heart.

Once upon a time, a little girl lived with her brother, her mother, and her father in a happy brick house in a smallish sort of town. It never got too terribly cold in this smallish sort of town, but winter still did come, as winter does to every town, not matter how big or small.

The little girl’s father loved to walk. And the little girl loved her father very much. He worked a lot, and most days, no matter how hot or cold or wet or dry, her father would walk to work. He would make his way down the cement sidewalks from the happy brick house, around the dangerous yucca plant by the mailbox on the corner next to the old infirmary, and between the tall pillars in the stone wall that surrounded the university campus. Then he would walk briskly past the acres of green grass and majestic buildings with their white marble columns and tall casement windows, down the little hill, and beneath the dark underpass, where the trains ran clickity-clackity above his head. He kept going still, for miles, past the tangled thicket of woods, past tall, fragrant pine trees, and past wide meadows, until he reached his work. It seemed to the little girl that is was a very long way to walk, but she knew that walking made her father happy.

The little girl and her father used to take walks together on the weekends. She loved their walks, when it was just the two of them, and he would hold her small cold hand in his big warm one, and they would talk about everything. They walked in the spring, when she would see the leaves starting to emerge from their slumbers. They walked in the summer, when she would take her shoes off and feel the soft grass beneath her feet. They walked in the fall, when she would kick through ankle-deep piles of crunchy brown leaves. They walked in winter, when her mother would wrap her feet in plastic bags to keep them warm inside her tall red boots.

One day, the whole family decided to walk together. To decorate the happy brick house for Christmas, they were going to gather branches in the tangled thicket of woods that her father passed each day on his way to work. The little girl wasn’t very happy about taking this long walk, because it was very long, and that day it was VERY cold, so cold that there was even some snow on the ground. Her mother dressed her warmly, in her little red coat, and her white hat with the pom on the top and the black and orange pattern around it, with its matching mittens. The little girl loved her hat and mittens. She thought they were the prettiest things she’d ever seen (after the Easter bonnet and parasol purse her grandmother had given her), and since she knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her father’s hand the whole way (because her brother was there), she was happy to have them to help keep her warm. But she was still grumpy about the walk.

They walked and walked and the little girl was so cold, and exceedingly grumpy because no one would carry her. After what seemed like weeks, they reached the tangled thicket. The whole family tromped across the snow to enter the woods, and began to collect branches and boughs and sprigs in bags to adorn the house. The little girl’s mittens kept getting stuck on the branches, so she took them off and tucked them in her coat pocket. It got colder and colder, and then dusk started to settle into the shadows of the trees and the family started for home. But when they had left the thicket, and the little girl went to put her mittens on…. one of them was gone. She began to cry. She begged her parents to go back and look for it, but to no avail. They promised her a new pair of mittens, but she was inconsolable. She knew that mitten would be cold and lost and lonely and would never know why it had been abandoned. She wept as if her heart would break, and would not be comforted. Not even when her Mother told her that it had probably become a nest to keep some baby animal warm.

Years passed, and the little girl grew and grew, as all little girls will, until she was a young woman. She had never forgotten her lost mitten, and, as a rational person, she found this odd. She knew that she had lost many things over the years. Why had the loss of one small mitten been so profound?

At 17, she found herself walking back to that same thicket, which was much less dense and tangled than it had been so many years ago, to look for the mitten. She knew it was beyond fanciful, but she felt she could not leave the now not-quite-so-smallish town without looking for it one last time.

Of course, she didn’t find the mitten.

More years passed, and the woman, who was not quite so young anymore, had moved thousands of miles away from the town, that was now an actually-pretty-big-town. She herself had a little girl, and the little girl, probably because she was so close to the ground, had a wonderful talent for finding small and beautiful things whenever they went anywhere. She would find coins and marbles and jewelry and all sorts of treasures.

She made the woman remember the mitten.

One day, when the dog ate one of her little girl’s favorite little winter gloves (which were black with bright orange and red flames) and she could not be consoled, the woman went to shop after shop until she found another pair that was exactly the same. She knew just how her little girl felt.

Even more years passed, as years do, and the woman’s little girl became a young woman herself, so the woman went to work in the big city. Because of her daughter, the woman still kept an eye out for treasures that others had lost, and whenever she found something, like a hat, or a nice pen, or a handkerchief, she would put it somewhere up off the ground, near the place she found it, in case the person who lost it came back looking for it. She never knew if they did, but she hoped. She hoped that they did, and that they would be happy when they found it again.

The woman still loved to walk, just like her father had. One day, the woman was walking briskly down the street in the big city, for it was a cold winter day. She was going to meet her fiancé for lunch, and she was very happy because she had been able to stop to pet a pug named Duke, and she was wearing her favorite sparkly earrings, which were old and unique, and which swayed and played softly about her ear lobes and made her feel pretty. When she got to the restaurant, she hugged her beloved, and took off her hat and realized…. one of her lovely, sparkly earrings was gone.

The woman was sad. She knew it was silly to be sad. She had reached an age where she knew that things were just things, and that everything goes the way of all flesh, and you can’t take it with you, and numerous other platitudes that people tell themselves to make themselves feel better when they lose something they were fond of.

She knew in her heart that she was still just a little girl who had lost her mitten.

She kissed her fiancé goodbye and walked back down the busy street, back the way she had come, back to work, with her eyes on the ground, looking for a small sparkly earring among the shiny patches of ice on the sidewalk. She knew the chances of ever seeing it again were so slim that they were nearly invisible. She crossed where the buses ran, looking for a telltale sign of crushed crystal and gold. She passed the planter where she had stopped to pet Duke the Pug. And out of the corner of her eye, on the corner of the last planter in the row, someone had carefully set a sparkly dangly earring, just so, so that in case the person who had lost it came looking, they would be sure to see it, if they had faith, and if they noticed.

The woman knew that there was another kindred soul in the big city who understood about lost things.

And for the rest of the day, the woman (and the little girl inside her) smiled with her eyes and her mouth and her heart.

The End

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On some inky black nights, the shadows of loss steal around my soul and make me feel as if there is nothing in this world but sorrow.

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Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “I guess by now I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.” — Alyson Noel

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
That it was a touch warmer today
Mr. Man
Blankets
My pair of life-sized plastic geese (don’t tell them they’re plastic – they don’t know)

MKL caught these stars for me in the blue, blue sea. Two of them. And this is one was ready for her close-up. The starfish were surprisingly heavy, surprisingly hard, and surprisingly pokey. Of course, we put them back.

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Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” — John Green

Daily gratitudes:
Pretty fall colors
A beautiful morning
Making it from my bed to the shower to the bus stop in 20 minutes
That MKL is home with me tonight
The birdsong of those migrating south

It seems the floodwaters can take a toll on relationships and dreams, not just property. Sad today. I am thankful for my MKL, who holds my heart and loves me.

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Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: ““Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and
beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” — Karen Blixen

Daily gratitudes:
The overly dramatic little boy at the Waffle House
Good conversation
Sunny days
The new additions to the household (photos to follow)
The Emmy Awards red carpet show

I caught a walk under the thunder today, which is a little nerve-wracking when you’re in the field, but it does make you go faster.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies… A child or a book or a painting o a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do… so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” — Ray Badbury

Daily gratitudes:
A puppy on a leash carrying the leashof  an older dog
MKL
How snuggly Mr. Man is
Walking
Lima beans

I have actually envisioned taking a pistol to my computer from time to time, but so far, I haven’t gone through with it. So far.

It’s been a week of technical frustration here at El Bungalow de Sweetie. Even though a lawnmower is not technically technology, after yesterday’s fiasco, I’m including it under the leaky umbrella of awfulness.  As I mentioned in last night’s rant, my phone is a pisser these days as well.

I am a late adopter, marrying an early adopter, and so MKL thought it would be great for me to get a SmartPhone about a year ago. Which I did. And I have regrets. I am now one of those people who no longer look out the window of the bus. I’m one of those people who can’t leave home without my phone. I’ve become one of those people I always snarked about.

When you upgrade to more sophisticated technology, you quickly integrate it into your daily life so that you feel dependent on it. And when it fails you – like my phone SO does often – you feel frustrated and betrayed. My phone deleted every picture I had taken since June. All by itself.  Just for some bitchy spiteful reason that it doesn’t want to talk about. That includes pictures from trips to Monument Valley and to Topsail. I hadn’t backed the pictures up on my computer because those two systems refused to speak to each other over the USB cable. (I think my phone has some personal problems.) While I mediated THAT communication breakdown last night, after downloading two separate programs that claimed they would recover the missing images, I am still bereft of said images. (Those programs lied. They were no help at all.)

When we were at Topsail, I got to talking with a lady slightly older than I. We were commiserating about the intrusion of technology in a place that feels like a throwback to an earlier era, as Topsail does. I remember when I was a kid at Topsail, my Dad would walk to the newspaper boxes in front of Mr. Godwin’s Market every morning to pick up copies of the Pender Chronicle, the Wilmington Star, and the Raleigh News & Observer (my Dad loved newspapers). That’s how we got our news. There was no TV. He had a radio that he brought with him that he set on the big table. That’s how we got our weather. Everyone at his work knew that he was out of town and unreachable. He had capable staff covering for him, and besides, nothing is as urgent as we think it is. We had no phone. He would walk down to the old glass pay-phone booth on Saturday nights to make his weekly calls to my grandmother. If my friends wanted to be in touch with me while we were gone, they would write me letters addressed to c/o General Delivery. Which they did.

We were not out of touch. We were in touch with each other, with the rhythm of the sea, with cooking and cleaning up after ourselves, with board games and books. We were simply at our ease.

I miss that. I can sometimes find that feeling on Anegada, when my internet doesn’t work. I could find it more often if I were disciplined enough just to disconnect. But there’s something different about disconnecting, as opposed to not having the connection in the first place. I can’t quite put my finger on it – it’s subtle and it’s infiltrating our concept of what we think we need (as opposed to what we actually need.)

All the noise of technology is drowning out the silence, the stillness, the mindfulness, and the care we took with things and with each other. Of course, I say this as I’m typing on a computer (as opposed to a typewriter) to an audience of hundreds who I would never have reached were it not for technology.

Ah, the irony of it.

And as for my phone, it was self-centered enough to save its own selfies, even though it wouldn’t save my pictures. I was going to post one of those pictures to accompany this blog entry, but guess what? I can’t find any of the pictures I did download from my phone last night anywhere on my computer.

And so, I bid you a disgusted good night.  May your dreams be techno-free.

 

 

 

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