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It was too cold to be out of bed. For someone.
But we did emerge yesterday and had breakfast at Leenie’s.
And did a little shopping. Who could resist this enticing sign?
And yes, I did get some socks. And a creepy vintage Valentine.
Along with a slightly freakish addition to the décor of the salle de bain. (Apologies for the blurry image.)
I visited with an old roommate today and had an excellent snuggle.
And now am properly attired for tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey.
I am doing serious battle with the winter blues. Friday can’t come soon enough.
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.
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.
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.
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
That it was a touch warmer today
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.
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
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.
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
The overly dramatic little boy at the Waffle House
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.
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
A puppy on a leash carrying the leashof an older dog
How snuggly Mr. Man is
Can you guess where we’re heading this weekend? Yup, up to Steamboat Springs for the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo (and the PRCA Rodeo). It’s super pre-storm windy here tonight, and Mr. Man is next to me on the bed. He’s not eating and not peeing, though he is drinking some, but that concerns me. It may just be that his gums are really sore from the dental work (and he did pee in the truck on the way home). I hate leaving him so soon. At any rate, the helpers will be keeping an eye on him, and I may ask one of them to get him some baby food. I remember doing that with my Boo when she was in her last month and couldn’t eat. He’s a darling. But with such a thick coat of fur, I’ll bet he’s looking forward to winter. Oh, and by the way, “Up we go” was how Kelsea used to ask to be picked up when she was a toddler.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Quote of the Day: ”Books. Cats. Life is good.” — Edward Gorey
Getting things done
Thunder at night
Breakfast for dinner
We had to turn around to go back to take a picture of this sign. MKL didn’t believe me when I told him what I had seen. I guess that’s common with UFOs.
At an intersection of two roads in northern New Mexico.
Quote of the day: “Keep calm and don’t forget the whipped cream” – Quinn Loftis
The gorgeous green in our lovely State right now
A surprise drop-in by Kelsea
That my cooking is improving
Iced green tea especially on hot days
Josh the Barista
Please say a prayer tonight for young Dylan Redwine, missing since November, whose body was found by searchers this week. May his soul fly free.