Halfway There

Ocean

Saying goodbye with only distant plans for reunion makes the empty new morning swallow you whole.

On rising we are required to remember our person is no longer in our daily world. Like the thousand times we reach for a phone to call parents with a question or to share news before it hits us that they have both been dead over a decade now. So much a part of who we are; a limb, a vital organ; stunned that we live on without them.

The letting go is like pushing off from shore and swimming into open-ocean towards a destination out of sight. Do we put some effort in and try to get there faster or pace ourselves in case it’s farther than imagined? The thing is, with every passing moment we know we’re getting closer. The starting place is behind us now; the day we said goodbye. And every day a little grief weight drops and bit by bit – lightness takes its place. Before we know it, we’re half way there. Closer by the day to being home than we were yesterday and that’s a good thing. A hopeful thing. And on the day we decide to make plans again clouds disappear and joy rises like crocus up from March snow.

We’re halfway there. See you soon.

Not Helping

Actual exchange this morning while out with my dog.

Other: “Wow. she’s really showing her age. How old is she?”

Me: “Uh…Seven.”

Other: “Yeah. That’s about as long as they live. Oh, well.”

Me:

cat mouth open

I say nothing..aloud. If I said what was going through my head at the moment I’m pretty certain that Other’s head would have exploded. Instead I patted my dog and turned back towards the house. In my head, aside from the tirade of profanity that was creeping up my collar, I was thinking, I hope like hell she never volunteers to be a grief counselor. So not helping.

I’ve known Other for a couple decades and there hasn’t been any signs of dementia or other disorder that might cause her to blurt out any unfiltered thought that pops into her head. That leaves one conclusion. Terminal rudeness.

Imagine this line of thinking if we adjust the scenario with one exchanged detail…

Me: “Wow, your mom’s really showing her age. How old is she now?”

Other: “Eighty nine.”

Me: Shaking my head on an exhale. “Yeah, that’s about as long as they live. Oh, well.”

You see the problem. Apparently, on her planet, ours was a normal exchange. I don’t want to live on her planet. I don’t even want to visit there.

I know my dog is getting older. I know Great Danes don’t have as long a life as smaller dogs. No shit, Sherlock. Just let me bathe in the bubble of *happy dog time* that I do have… And I swear to god, if you say one rude thing after she’s gone, I am egging your house on the hottest day of the year.

There. I feel better. Now, THAT helped.

 

Through the Muck

 violet

I have a big dog. A Great Dane in fact, and this morning I was out back collecting some spring flowers that only seem to thrive in the places where we’ve dumped her winter offerings collected from the snow covered yard. A 135 pound dog can create an impressive volume of offerings. It’s a ritual; following her after her daily constitutional with the blue metal scooper and carrying the mess to the side beds to toss it just over the ornamental rail where it decomposes beneath grapevine, clematis, day lilies, azalea and other sleeping things in the garden.

By May, after the mess has been incorporated into the soil and mulched, it’s a tiny jungle of green. As I crouch down to move the lush green leaves and collect the delicate violets and lily-of-the-valley that grow there, every brush of my hand against the petals will cause a cloud of heady fragrance to perfume the air. The amazing scent these tiny bell shaped flowers give off herald spring and all the little things that have returned after our punishing Michigan winters. They bloom and thrive for a few short weeks and then they’re gone. Waiting for next winter’s feeding to gather the steam to do it all again.

These beautiful, tiny wonders were fed from the mess that was once dog crap. Hey, it’s fertilizer. Whether it comes from cows or another creature, the nutrients and organisms make for rich ground.

Dog shit. Who knew that out of such an unpleasant situation, some of the most fragrant and lovely flowers could rise from the muck and thrill the lucky recipient of the bloom? It got me thinking about other things; people even, who started their lives in awful, challenging and difficult situations and somehow turned their time on Earth into a blazing wonder of creativity.

I have bought, and received, gorgeous hothouse flowers; roses and other things that look absolutely perfect from a distance. Moving closer I am always disappointed to find there is hardly a scent to them at all. Pressing my nose right into the blooms I find nothing; as if they were silk and a Made in China paper tag should be found stuck to the stem near the plastic thorns.

These flowers have been given the perfect setting, just enough water, nutrients, light and tending to produce perfect petals and uniform color. They bloom on time for the growers and are cut and delivered to market like obedient little children; having done their homework and gotten the proper eight hours of sleep each night. Everything…right. Everything…calculated and perfect. And they are that; perfect. Flawless. Soul-less. Lifeless and perfect.

These hot house flowers are like so many boarding-school, trust-fund children; their path from birth to death a safe and predictable journey. Bred and trained to maintain the family’s reputation and to protect the fortune amassed by relatives until the young reach an age when they can quietly whither in their private gardens observed by those who can afford the luxury of their physical beauty.

Call me crazy but I’ll take a handful of dog-shit-fed, knock-you-on-your-ass-with-their-heavenly-scent, drive way throw off, back-garden lily-of-the-valley any day over the surgical beauty of a hothouse rose.

I’ll take my friends and my heroes like that too. The people I know who started out fighting their way through the shit are the shining stars that make life fascinating. They took what they were fed and used it as fertilizer for books they’ve written, for art they have made, for inspiration to grow on through the mess. The ones who came from nothing; even the wealthy rebels who rejected the attempts to conform them to the family cookie cutter shape, they have brought a bouquet of fantastic memories to anyone lucky enough to meet them.

Here’s to starting life in a pile of crap and coming up smelling like heaven…

 

lily of the valley

 

 

 

I’m A Little Busy

Participant-2014-Facebook-Profile

What do you do when you’re about to begin a huge kitchen renovation project?

You also start writing a new book. Of course you do.

For the past several years I have been watching from the bleachers as writers got down there on the floor and dug in for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge: 50,000 words in 30 days. Start day- November 1. End day- November 30. That’s not really a novel at 50G’s. More like a novella. But there’s no rule that you can’t write over 50,000. So I am. Writing over the amount that is.

It’s day thirteen of NaNoWriMo 2014, and I am currently 24,005 words into a brand new, adult paranormal romance novel. It’s happening, Writing in the early morning hours and late afternoons. Touching the Bones, is coming into focus and I am really having fun writing these characters.

It’s happening, in spite of my Olympic levels of distraction; ordering materials, fixtures, furniture and all it takes to transform a 1933 kitchen into something less; Katherine Hepburn stars in Little Women and more, well, me. Right now.

There have been three families before us living in this old house, and we’ve been here twenty two years. We’ve lived with the original pale yellow and black accent tile that looks like a diner Billie Holiday might have frequented for three in the morning breakfast’s with the band members.

A few years ago, an elderly woman and her friend were walking past the house while I was outside. She stopped to tell me that she had lived in our house when she was a child. I invited her in and found myself watching her face as she moved, room to room, lost in memories held in these walls for eighty years. She noted the tile in the kitchen being the same and most of the other features typical in an old Midwestern house; laundry shoots from the second floor, milk door that opens to outside to the drive way, small alcove in the front hall for the telephone-back when folks had only one.

As she stood in the doorway of the master bedroom, her hand flew to her heart and she whispered, “This was my parent’s room.”  My full laundry basket on the floor suddenly seemed to defile the now, sacred space. As she left, she touched the Brass door knocker on the front door. I had painted the old door gold on both sides; for golden opportunities every where you look.She asked if I knew about the knocker. I didn’t. She said that back in the day, door knockers let people know if there was a specific crafts person or professional person living there-like a business shingle. This knocker meant a doctor lived here; her father. I had no idea and I’ve seen that thing every day for two decades.

doctor door knocker

It makes me feel a little bad as we take crowbars and hammers to the pale yellow and black tile that’s stood guard all this time in that old kitchen. But not bad enough to stop whacking it into dust and getting excited about the brand new space that I will [finally} have where I can create my food wonders.

So, as I am writing, writing, writing… I  am also jumping at the loud sound of the doctor door knocker. UPS, delivering my new bronze pendant light.

My cat is hiding a lot. My dog is getting her cardio work in running to the door to greet/interrogate delivery and construction people; and I am falling into a schedule of trying to write before it all begins and after it ends…so… I’m a little busy. It’s a really good busy though.

And like all things that need to be born into the world or transformed, there is disruption. There is chaos. There is pain (hammer…thumb). There is exhaustion. There are tears. And then…there is something worth every minute and every stupid crappy thing it took to get there.

I’m smiling through the plaster dust and typing like a mad woman with band aides on my fingers.

Happy Fall.

Happy everything new.

On wings of words I fly into your heart…

on wings of words I fly into your heart

P.S.: If you want to see a snip of the new novel, go to the home page and on the top you’ll see the appetizer menu- a taste of Touching the Bones. You can read chapter one there.

or click here………   https://wordninjagirl.com/appetizer-menu-a-little-taste-of-touching-the-bones/

 

Poetry……I’m

Cathead Bay Michigan

I’m

I’m a Galleria Mall in a National Park,

a French film noir in a grocery store,

art school in the kitchen,

An erotica book on a Wednesday noon,

And a heated debate at 2 a.m.

I’m the cookie baker

trouble maker

heart breaker

claim staker-

I want everything to change

While the good parts stay the same.

I want the freedom of the road

while harvesting the flowers I’ve sowed.

I want a home that feels like love

and all the laughter it’s made of-

I want a soundtrack worth a movie

And then I want to leave behind

A mountain of creations

For my progeny to find.

That’s all.

What I’ve Seen…Reaching 60

Arteyes

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s a big one. Sixty. At this auspicious moment I am wondering how the hell did this many years pass so ridiculously fast?

When my kids were young teens itching to do something they weren’t ready for yet, I would get out the construction tape measure. I would lay it out to 100 inches and chalk where their ages fell and how long their wait really was to participate in the activity that eluded them. Then I would point down the line to how many more times they could do that forbidden thing in the one hundred or so years they had to live their lives. It made the two inches from 14 to 16, when their driver’s license would come seem like the paltry eye blink that it was.

Looking back down my own line of numbers, already passed, I am embracing my million moments that drew together to make me. Gathered knowledge is just hoarding thoughts until you share it. For what it’s worth, these are some of the things I have seen.

Even if you grew up watching shows like Friends and assuming adulthood would be a constant coffee klatch with your across the hall neighbors, you will spend most of your time alone in this life. Unless you are conjoined, this is the way of the world. And if you can’t be at peace in your times of solitude, why in the hell would you think other people would be interested in spending time with you either? Learn shit. Get interested and then you will be interesting-to yourself and to others.

The greatest lesson for young teen abstinence should be the fact that the first person you get naked with will-in all likelihood-not be the last. With the exception of the four couples you will meet who are childhood sweethearts-you will swim into and out of tubs, ponds, raging rivers and oceans of love in all its forms until you find somewhere that becomes your place in the world. That’s where you will build your home- however early or late in life you find it and trying to pitch a tent anywhere else will give temporary shelter and nothing more.

When people close to you lash out it is usually because they want you to love them more than it appears you do. If you pay attention, people will tell you what they want-so listen.

Most people, even the most hardened among us, still have a soft, gooey center and if you are paying attention and listening you can figure out what they love. That is what made them gooey like that in the first place. If they showed you the gooey love, they shared the keys to their castle. Honor that.

There are seven billion people on this planet. When you are not famous, the statistical magic of finding one person who can see you for the blazing light you actually are is a gift rarer then the most expensive gemstone. Own that.

Real love never dies. It only changes shape to accommodate the way you live now.

The secret to happiness is this: figure out what you want and find a way to ask for it.

Love is your own personal experience. It sparks and blooms inside your own head-like a private revelation; a movie only you can see. Even if the object of your affection does not return your ardor with the same intensity or at all, never hold regret for having felt that feeling. To know what love feels like is like visiting the most beautiful place on Earth. Not everyone will go there in their lifetime but you have, and you can tell others what it feels like to stand in the center of all that beauty; what it is to see the blazing light of someone else and have it warm your soul even if it’s just for a moment. It will change you forever; no matter if life or death moves you far away from that other person, it will remain part of who you are now.

What I have seen while I have run, swam, played, danced, loved, fought, created, walked, crawled, bled, cried and laughed my way through the sixty years on planet Earth comes down to this: love. It always comes down to that. And on the last day I get in this life, it will still be about love; who I loved and who loved me.

That is where I have a cave of treasure like Aladdin. I remember all the love my heart has felt. It fills my pens, my brushes, my cooking pots and the large broken parts inside of me. It is my gold.

The Japanese have a practice called Kintsugi. It’s a ceramic pottery ritual where a beloved broken vessel is pieced back together with molten gold used like glue. It gathers the shattered parts together; making it whole again in a new and beautiful way.

Today, I will visualize all the love I’ve known as gold and let it fill the cracks and broken parts of me to make me whole like the day I was born only different…better. It will be my private gift to myself; the strengthening of my weak places. What I’ve seen in my sixty years has been a kaleidoscope of wonder and I am filled with anticipation as the curtain rises on the next act.
kintsugi bowl