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The sea changes from day to day, as do I. Serene one day, restless the next. And ever sleepless. Forgive me for being gone a bit, and don’t forget about me. I am throwing myself into working on my novel (well, one of them) with a passion inspired by NaNoWriMo. Otherwise, I am still broken-toed and gimpy-armed and just managing.
Quote of the day: “You have to write the book that wants to be written.” — Madeleine L’Engle
Noticing the details but not getting trapped within them
A good massage
Talking with Kelsea
My surprise from MKL
NaNoWriMo Day 2 word count: 3657
My blog friend over at Half Girl Half Teacup posted today about a common concern of bloggers, best summarized by “Who’s reading this stuff anyway?” We want people to read our words. We’ve put a little piece of our soul into each post. Sometimes, we want to share some pretty deep and intense thoughts or recollections, and when moved by that spirit, we can sometimes feel stifled by the fact that our family, friends, in-laws and co-workers might be reading these words. I’ve shared some personal things about depression, family, parenthood, divorce, loss, and love. I’ve shared pain and poetry. I’ve shared some of my skeletons.
There’s more I want to share, and sometimes I hesitate. I hesitate because I fear the judgement of people who know me. If they really know me, they know that what I share, what I have experienced has helped me become who I am. We are not who we were in our pasts; we are shaped by our past experiences, and by our past choices, wise or otherwise. In blogs, we hang our skeletons on fenceposts, and let whoever drives by see, stop, ponder. That road is public – it might be our own driveway, or it might be an inaccessible trail at the back of beyond. Anyone who finds it can see those bones. As I commented on Jess’ post, there is no shame in my life, my past (remarkable and regretful as some of it is), or my thoughts – no shame in me. So there’s no reason for anyone NOT to see my words, to see those bones. If they judge in some negative fashion, that speaks about them, not about me. My bones are out there, brightening in the sun.
Quote of the day: “Every heart has its own skeletons.” — Leo Tolstoy
The graphics on the 1st Bank display downtown
A stubborn cricket outside the back door
The promise of bacon
An orange glow at sunset
If you’ve followed along my journey for some time, you’ll know that I have a lifelong tendency to attract and communicate with spirits. As I’ve been exploring my own spirituality more in-depth of late, and noticing that my beliefs are evolving, my curiosity about this connection has been deepening as well. I’ve lived with spirits in houses since I was a child, and as I’ve mentioned before, this gift (for it is a gift) that we call “the shine” runs in the women in my family. Based on her own self-knowledge and desire to feel in control, my Mother denied it in her 20s, but told me about it as she noticed that I had it, and gave me warnings that I have heeded. We won’t go into those now. While my company tends to be benevolent spirits, that has not always been the case – yet another story for another time. And since I like to walk the edge a bit with this gift, those city ghost tours tend to be exceptionally interesting for me and the others on the tours that I attend (Boulder, Cripple Creek Jail, and Portland, Oregon, to name a few.)
The bungalow has, I have discovered, an exceptionally quirky history, and along with it, some spirits. I think they were here when I moved in – in fact, I am certain of it, as I recall sitting in a corner of the empty kitchen in tears and feeling them shifting curiously around me. Once they realized I was a kindred spirit, so to speak, they showed no reticence to make their presence known. Objects mysteriously moved – generally sparkly things like jewelry, set in the center of the doorways. Items that would vanish and then reappear in places that I had looked a dozen times. The occasional mysterious loud thump that even startles Mr. Man. A pinch on the ass when I’m standing at the sink washing dishes. For a while, a cat was visiting, courtesy of Cousin Tam, curling up in a lump on my feet when Mr. Man was up by my shoulder. And always, that fleeting glimpse of something just out of the corner of my eye, passing by the doorway.
I’ve been struggling physically lately with what I originally thought was a pinched nerve, but which has been getting progressively worse, and so am now taking some mega-dose of steroids, which aren’t suiting my system and are messing with my already disastrous sleep patterns. Tonight, on a whim, in lieu of sleep (partly because the spirits have hidden my book), I decided to see if I could have a little dialogue with them.
Now, I don’t hear voices, because I know that’s a bad thing on almost all counts. But there are tools that paranormal professionals (hmm) use to communicate with spirits and I’ve had some success with dousing rods. Do you know what they are? Not the water-seeking kind, although I do seem to recall using those one summer in Arkansas. They’re these, laid out in this image on a handmade quilt that I bought at auction four years ago:
I have learned that you have to ask your questions and tell the spirits how to move the rods to communicate their answers. So when I establish a baseline, it’s something like “find me” or “find Mr. Man” or “if your answer if yes, point to the chicken”. Tonight, I learned through our dialogue that there are more than two, they currently are most comfortably in the small back hallway between the bedrooms, but they’d like to have a light there, they are young adults, and they are happy where they are. They are neutral about my staying, but they do get along with me. And there was apparently one young man and one young lady, though they had a difficult time understanding the concept of gender given their current state of affairs.
It was powerful and interesting. It felt safe communicating with them, and I will probably do it again, especially if I find myself awake in that hour betwixt and between when it seems all things of heaven and earth are in a drowsy state of active receptiveness.
Quote of the day: “The terms we use for what is considered supernatural are woefully inadequate. Beyond such terms as ghost, specter, poltergeist, angel, devil, or spirit, might there not be something more our purposeful blindness has prevented us from understanding? We accept the fact that there may be other worlds out in space, but might there not be other worlds here? Other worlds, in other dimensions, coexistent with this? If there are other worlds parallel to ours, are all the doors closed? Or does one, here or there, stand ajar?” — Louis L’Amour
MKL’s true love and support
Flocks of pigeons
A reduction in my nerve issues (from the steroid mega-dose)
My Victorian nightdress
Seeing old friends in dreams
A lot of us spend a lot of time at our desks. At work. And we all have different decorating styles when it comes to cubeland. One colleague has lovely pictures of her family. Another thrives in a simplistic, uncluttered environment. Yet a third has added fake plants and a bright green and white striped carpet (we call her cube “Lupe’s Lanai”, even though her name is not Lupe – but it could have been).
My space is definitely busy. Plants, a few random stuffed animals, some dried flowers that MKL has given me, and a wall-sized photo of Cow Wreck Beach. But when I’m not facing my double computer screens, and I turn and put my boots up on my file cabinet to ponder words yet unwritten, this is what I see. My little desk altar.
What’s here? My island-a-day calendar. A cobalt blue fish from MKL. A gull feather. One of my father’s handkerchiefs. A card from MKL. A stone with a dragonfly on it from one of our trips last year. A San Pellegrino bottle used as a vase. A picture (from the island calendar) taken from a place I’ve stood at Wormshead in Wales. And my favorite picture of my darling daughter. And some strange golden foam letters from our recent building remodel, that I can change into different nonsensical words. My little altar might be a little busy, but every item is special to me, and helps my brain clear and find the words I need.
Perhaps I can consider it a space in which to commune with Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. Or St. Francis de Sales (aka The Gentleman Saint), Patron Saint of Writers and Journalists. At any rate, it’s a little peaceful, a little inspirational, and a lot of me.
What does you desk altar look like?
Quote of the day: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” — Albert Einstein
An unexpected hillside of cornflowers
Thunder and lightning
The House of Eliott
Mr. Man’s roly-poly stoner behavior on catnip
As I’ve no doubt mentioned several times, I have a tradition of reading the same book each spring. Since spring has been curiously delayed this year, no doubt having remembered some sudden and unavoidable appointment elsewhere, it has taken me a long time to finish my book this year. We have a week of rain, flood watches, and yes, even some potential snowflakes in the forecast, and I still have not reached the point in the book that makes me cry my eyes out in a sort of cleansing purge. The book is Anne of Green Gables,(go ahead, call me juvenile), originally published by L.M. (Lucy Maude) Montgomery in 1908. My copy is a little yellow paperback that I got some 40 years ago in a bookstore in Northgate Mall, a few blocks from my house. It was between a “This End Up” store and a store that sold fireplace implements and other impracticalities – from which I bought my brother a lovely Spanish sword for Christmas one year. (Thankfully, he never used it on me, though I’m sure he was mightily tempted.)
While I have read the other “Anne books”, this is the one that touches my spirit. The author has a way of weaving magic and beauty out of common images and words, even tweaking them to her own words when actually OED words just don’t suffice. I know I have a tendency to do that too, and that the way Anne sees the world is the way I see it: looking in nature and treasuring moments of beauty that are transitory yet everlasting in memory. L.M. Montgomery seems to capture all the hopes and dreams and sorrows and quiet joys of a young person’s future in her portrayal of Anne, and while I am not a “young person” chronologically, I have those same hopes and dreams and joys and sorrows, some now bittersweet memories and others anticipated with all the optimism of a teenager. And ll the enthusiasm of spring, when it finally throws off its cloak of gray and shows its true colors.
My version of the book is slightly shabby from numerous readings, has no copyright date, and isn’t even visible on Google images, and has a photo of a girl who someone at Tempo Books thought looked like Anne, but I disagree. I have my own vision, painted by L.M. Montgomery’s words, which is far more lovely and moontouched. And I highly recommend it if you need to bring a touch of spring and hope into your life.
Quote of the day:“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” — L.M. Montgomery (of course)
I can’t say I’m not glad to see the back of January. It seems to have been a tough month for many. Let’s hope February is kinder. Being a Spring and Summer person, winter is tough (don’t ask me why I live in Colorado), and in February, there are signs of Spring. Not snowdrops or crocuses – it’s a bit too early for that – but I grasp at the smallest things: the fact that they have the flyer for proposed bus route changes coming in May on my morning commute; that movie trailers say “coming this summer”; that it stays light just a little bit later every day. We had a lovely fluffy snow last night – not hard to shovel, and just some curious magical quality to it, so that it clung to the tree branches like albino caterpillars, and made the fields seem buried in puffed silk. It was a snow I didn’t mind, and for me, that’s saying something.
Quote of the day: “Fortunately, I’m good at ignoring a lot of what my brain does.” — Richard Kadrey
An interesting Super Bowl
A snuggly Mr. Man
Missing Michael – I would be sadder if I didn’t miss him
The big fat pig enjoying the snow in her field
The cry of a crow
My darling daughter starts her senior year in high school tomorrow. It’s a strange thing. I remember being her age so vividly, and now I am seeing it from my Mother’s perspective. Athough Kelsea is different than I was at 17. It is so hard to comprehend her leaving home in a year. Perhaps for me, since she has not been with me full-time since I left ex-Pat’s house, and since I have always worked so much, and therefore seen less of her than your average mom, it will be a little easier. But the closer we get to the day she leaves, the more that feels like an untruth. I am so grateful that I did not miss these last years with her – yes, that was an option when I was under the spell of deceit in my previous relationship. I would not trade where I am now in my life with her – and with MKL – for anything. Not for all the islands in the world.
As she looks to the West for her future, I see her future through the strands of my own memories. New friends, first loves, that sense of freedom and power that comes from being truly on your own for the first time. Philosophy discussions. Term papers. Dorm food. Calling Mom for instructions on laundry and cooking. Walking to class on cold wet mornings. Learning a new city. Finding your way.
And I see her past. Standing at the sliding glass doors with Tug, bobbing up and down as her Daddy came home. Feeding her in the bar sink at the beach house. Her wearing her little pumpkin suit on her first Halloween. Coaching her on her first word. Playing restaurant. Teaching her to ride a bike. White blonde hair in summer. Finger painting. Blowing bubbles. Bathtimes. Reading all the Harry Potter books together. Mother-Daughter trips. Cuddling in thunderstorms. Jumping waves. Hugging next to horizons of sunflowers and darkly phosphorescent seas.
A long time ago, there was a country song by Suzy Bogguss about a girl going off to college and how her mother felt. Even before I had a child, that song made me cry. When the time comes to pack up my girl and set her free for parts distant, I suspect I’ll be playing that song a lot. (And you may see a few more sentimental posts on this blog.)
I have always said that there is an invisible silken strand that connects a mother’s heart with her child’s – my heart with her heart. She spoke that back to me a few weeks ago, and I was surprised and moved that she had heard me say it, had remembered it, and felt it too. The first time I experienced the strength of the strand was when ex-Pat took her to a family reunion. She was five years old. I had to stay behind to work. I felt so strange the whole time they were gone. She and I missed each other, and the strand stretched all the way from her heart in California to mine in Colorado. Stretched fine and thin, but as strong as ever. Perhaps even stronger for the distance.
I will treasure the days until she leaves, rejoice with her when it’s time for her to go, and cherish the strength of the strand.
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.
Quote of the day: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” — Ayn Rand
That I was glowing today
Always carrying a book with me
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.
This struck my fancy. I miss letters – actual letters that arrive in a mailbox, not emails, which are nice, but just not the same. I always used to write my letters on onion-skin paper – does anyone but me remember that kind of paper? It had a lightness, a sheerness to it, that made it seem more romantic somehow, more classic. And of course, I always needed just the right pen. I think that’s a characteristic of most writers, that need for the perfect instrument to spill our hearts and words onto paper. Hope you are all having a lovely week.
Quote of the day: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Watching a pink sunset at Topsail on the Jolly Roger webcam
That the grass is still emerald green in October
Mr. P, my new travel pillow
Lunches with MKL
Olives and feta