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Dandelions, like all things in nature are beautiful when you take the time to pay attention to them. (June Stoyer)

Good afternoon, human. I’ve been awake since early morning, grateful last week’s pesticide spray missed me.

Sure, I’ll pose. There are tulips on the other side of the sidewalk. Red. Yellow. I noticed you didn’t stop to admire them. You knew people in the eighteenth century preferred my ancestors to mowed grass. Nice research. I am hardy, rise early, and sleep late. I appreciate the compliment.

Wait… Don’t leave so quickly. I’d like to play mirror with a homo sapiens for a minute. Because…because you are thinking about people who are important to you. One woman was beaten when she was a child. She needed to be rescued. Yet, her spirit shines brighter than my yellow surface.  Her giving is honest.

I talked a bit fast there. But I wanted to get a lot of stuff in. Strange, isn’t it, how some creations flourish where others dissolve with the next temperature rise? Not a judgment, just what it is. An orchid is in trouble when its leaves get too dark. Can’t change that in a human either. However, the human has more sources for support. Physical. Mental.

You didn’t expect that much from a plant, a flower, this ordinary, did you? Even you have your stereotypes. I hope to see you again after the next mowing. Keep your eyes open. Thanks for the chat.

Inside Dreams

inside dreams

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. (Albert Einstein)

 The hotel bed is large, comfortable, with sheets cleaned by someone other than me. I’m on vacation. And yet, my closed eyes don’t travel toward dreamland. Two hours pass. A thunderstorm hits both outside, into the noisy street, and inside me, into a series of both recent and long-gone events that refuse to change their reality.

 Facts. Time to change channels. Silently my brain sings Summertime from Porgy and Bess. My one and only standing ovation for a vocal solo more than 55 years ago. The only song my arthritic fingers can strum on a guitar after a broken middle finger. Nope. Too many replays. I am yawning. Not a good sign.

I try grandchild stories. Smiles. Nonsense. Happy trouble. Words. Not the quiet needed for sleep.

Gratitude. Simple. I move closer to warmth. The man I married fifty years ago. And sleep steals my body and mind, the anesthetic necessary for healing. Perhaps as I waken not long after seven, my dreams didn’t have enough time to do a full night’s work. And I don’t remember the tiniest dream sequence.

 The sun rises and dries the cement-sidewalk world outside my window. My eyes open to a day that could take me anywhere. It doesn’t ask for perfect. Perfect has no place else to go. Sounds boring.

Boring ends across the street at a local coffee shop. A young girl behind the counter. Her name is Kay. I buy a croissant-sandwich and then survey the homemade treats. We talk. The beauty in her spirit speaks louder than her words. I don’t have enough change for the cookie I buy.

“That’s okay. I’ll spot it,” she says.

I pause. The difference is one-third the cost.

“That’s okay. I’ll spot it,” she repeats.

And I tell her I will announce her kindness in a larger forum. This blog.

Thank you, Kay! May your fondest dreams come true.

 

country road_LI

What you're missing is that the path itself changes you. (Julien Smith, The Flinch)

Are we there yet? 
my child voice calls from the past.
And I recall waves of heat
on the road ahead, illusions of invisible fire
as my dad drives toward them.

Are we there yet?
a younger brother repeats
as the road continues
past neat rows of corn.
And cows, a rare sight for a city child. 

Are we there yet?
my siblings and I wonder.
We’ve asked too many times.

And now I watch
a different road. My beyond grown
wrinkled hands grasp the steering wheel.
“You really are old,”
my honest granddaughter says.

And we pass the full summer
beauty of leaves soon to ripen red
and drop.

My granddaughter and I
laugh as the light turns green.

Are we there yet?
I answer a long-ago child.
You were already there.



(pic taken from public domain photo)


The Pond: A Poem

Park pic

Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not. (Valery Satterwhite)
THE POND

A deer lay dead in this pond last winter,
bloated, white as the ice-spotted hills.
The carcass froze, demise unknown,
while the frigid water licked its sides
until the body could be hauled to shore.
Now, a late summer breeze
remembers nothing of snow,
and warmed water fills in the emptied space.
My spirit longs to plunge under the surface,
to swim with the schools of tiny fish
under the water lilies,
to sing with the frogs,
and smell the algae and rotting things
until it finds the secret of water,
that accepts whatever space it is given.
Frozen, heated, evaporated,
eventually it becomes a pond again,
that accepts the dead and feeds the living
without question.






sun
There's a lot of difference between listening and hearing. (G. K. Chesterton)

As I drive, rain splatters on my car windshield. Fresh fat circles followed by long and hard streaks. I remember an old saying from my childhood, Run between the drops. Never a realistic expectation. More a fantasy notion.

I want to dry rain and tears, to change the diagnosis a friend recently heard. Cancer. And not an early stage. I want to run between the drops and take people who need healing with me.

A raincoat is the best tool for now. Live through all that happens. My friend’s laundry is in the spin cycle now. Clean wash soon to be dried. I will do what I can. And wait for the sun to shine again. It always does.

Flashlight, a Poem

flashlights

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.  (Jonathan Swift)

Flashlight

She stirs artificial sweetener into her coffee
as my husband shares one oldie recording after another.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane,
The Supremes. The 1960’s scene.

Folk artists. One-time hits. I listen.
And watch as my friend moves her head
with the drumbeat. She is blind. She won’t look 
for bookshelf dust or carpet lint. We welcome 

few guests during pandemic time. She celebrates
learned pathways through my house and moves 
between our couch and dining room table.
We share places where disability dissolves.

Or so I imagine until she reaches for coffee
and touches another cylindrical object instead.
“What is this?” I answer, “flashlight,” 
as if she knew about the object the way

she understands the feel of our leather couch,
the last Elvis Presley song, or a groaner-pun.
“Oh,” she answers. Yet, I don’t see the un-seeable
 until I return the artificial light to a desk drawer.

She would fathom flash-light 
the way any sighted person grasps a concept like infinity. 
I have a lot to learn about my friend’s life. 
I am grateful she is willing to teach me.


published in For A Better World 2021

living flower

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. (Jack Kerouac)

 I hate to admit it. My thumb isn’t green. Gangrene? More like it. I have destroyed succulents. Never on purpose.  My everyday world is too crowded. I never finish enough tasks to remember plant care.

 Simplicity. My goal on more than one level.

 A super-special person gave me this plant. In time it gave up. Too much water one day and then none for weeks. I placed the pot on the front porch. The leaves remained a sad, dull brown despite sun and rain.

 I declared it dead, but it missed garbage day. Twice. My best excuse is guilt. I felt as if I had ignored the goodness of the giver. Then, one day I saw a dry, weak green appear on one side. Nah! A fresh sprout would be a miracle. I didn’t deserve one. However, the flower was worthy. I let the green fight through.

 Now, bright-pink springs through our old blue railing. Life, one word.

Persistent and beautiful.

 

The Ugly Mood Storm

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The problems Chase and his friends face in The Ugly Mood Storm, mimic difficulties the pandemic has highlighted. Distrust. Closed minds. Misinformation. The fantasy was ready for publication just before the disease exploded across the planet. Unfortunately, a distanced world where author and reader could not meet, was not the time to introduce a new book. The paperback and eBook are now available. The lexicon is manageable for fourth to sixth grade students.

In the Ugly Mood Storm, no ordinary storm has hit Bench Springs. It’s evil. Its job is to make town citizens destroy one another. The Malefics have created a constant, magical, thunderstorm. It forces residents to stay inside the town’s limits where they fight among themselves. Logic is lost someplace inside an unopened dictionary.

Fights arise about nothing, flip-top phones, or the only downtown traffic light. A busy League spirit hides bullets from all the guns in town. The sun never rises. Chase and his Star League friends need to tackle the untouchable, the impossible, and the foul. Ugly moods affect every man, woman, and child who needs air to breathe. It is poisoned by the unnatural rain.

The Malefics sit back, relax, and watch. Let the people destroy themselves. Yet, the Star League kids know there must be a flaw in the plan. Somewhere. They must find a win for the Star League because the series ends on the last page. With truth. In a solid-story form.

The complete tale begins with book one, The Curse Under the Freckles, where Chase learns that only he can remove the curse that holds his magical powers hostage. But the fight does not involve weapons. It asks for much more.

The adventure continues with Stinky Rotten Threats as Pitch Hardside, kid Malefics member, makes his move to become a stronger and more grownup vicious leader. Pitch isn’t at big-time-curse level yet, but he creates a well-placed stink that could keep Chase and friends from entering their own safe quarters. Not bad for a preteen. Also, not the end of his story.

Now, during the last pages of the journey, a strong dose of truth appears. A tangible kind of honesty. May it leak into the real world.  

(Cover art by Philip Rogers)

 

 

leaves shaped like a heart

You can be a victim of cancer or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset. (Dave Pelzer)

Debby and nature know one another. She celebrates it and doesn’t take blue skies and artistically shaped branches for granted. I love Debby’s lack of pretense. It comes naturally. She grew up on a farm and recognizes the innate virtue of the living world.

As a child Debby had a pet skunk. Scent weaponry disengaged. At an early age she could accept the soft beauty of a maligned animal. Debby recognizes goodness in the light-and-shadow natural world. Therefore, when she developed cancer and needed a spiritual sign, nature provided the hope she needed.

Fear is a normal reaction. Pain. Severe post-treatment nausea. Then, came the result of any trauma—waking in the morning and knowing the previous day wasn’t a dream. It touches anyone who has walked through hell.

Therefore, nature knew what to do. It created art for her in a unique form, one she could see from her window. Dried leaves formed the shape of a heart on the roof of a neighbor’s house.  Dried and crumbled oak. Cracked brown maple. Unidentified stems.

As new winds approached, the pattern remained. For weeks. Hope healed Debby’s spirit. Spirit filled her body, and the cancer did not stay.

Eventually, wind scattered nature’s artwork. It erased the leaf-heart. The message wasn’t needed anymore. Debby’s beating heart was going to be enough. She had purpose. She would survive.

The original photograph of the neighbor’s roof isn’t much larger than a postage stamp. The enlarged version, like life, isn’t as clear as I would like it to be. However, a little sun color highlights the miracle celebration. The unspoken possibilities.

The story of Lazarus claims he was raised from the dead. However, the rising wasn’t permanent. It didn’t put him in front of anyone in line at a grocery store. Imagine how many lines in his face he could have by now! His second burial didn’t make much of a story. His life in between? That could be another matter, possibly not exciting enough for added scribbled pages. Most of the good we do isn’t dramatic.

I am grateful for Debby. Her healing. Her presence in my tiny spiritual community. Her friendship.

Peace to all. May gratitude grab this moment, whether it be inside a place of struggle or a moment of triumph.

 

pool_LI

If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one. (Russian proverb)

Two loads of wash in the hall. A bathroom that needs cleaning. An over-scheduled week. My husband suggests we go to the Y. Relax. Maybe when I get back, I will actually do one thing at a time. 

Buoyed by eleven feet of water, I tread from one side of the deep end to the other. Heat may fill the air, but I am surrounded by coolness. And a vague sense something special is about to happen. I smile at a young gentleman swimming close by. He smiles back.

Soon Randy and I engage in a long conversation. Well, he talks. I listen. “My heart stopped beating last March and my wife revived me with CPR.” My ears are open.

He introduces me to his wife. I hear their stories. They include meditation, music, a recording studio, a computer enterprise. Enthusiasm. A bi-racial couple with an incredible story to tell. Whether the husband or wife carries more sun-protective melanin doesn’t matter.

The point of this story has less to do with outside features than internal qualities. I see no wrinkles on my companions but recognize plenty of experience. I wonder if the couple has hit 40 yet.

I know I want to meet Randy and his wife again.  We met on a spiritual level. The ideal in any gathering. Buoyed by hope, I forget about a schedule that seemed impossible a few hours ago. One breath at a time. One slow kick after another keeps me moving in the water. Today. This moment. It doesn’t need to be perfect to be beautiful.     

Our past offers us two choices … live IN it or live FROM it.  (Brittany Burgunder)

One of our upstairs room has been a storeroom. For things. Too many things. For years. Oh why was I born with a creative mind instead of one made of neat everything-has-a-place compartments? With loving help the space is now a playroom. For grandkids. As I go through old photo albums, the next chore, I see pictures of my parents. In a side closet I find my wedding dress again, fifty years after I slipped it into its protective bag, closed the zipper and lived the unexpected life that followed.

I find a poem, written after exploring my father’s house after he died.

wedding dress

LAST VISIT TO THE HOUSE I CALLED HOME
           
Dust encases the old homestead.
Encyclopedias from 1963,
boxes of unused pencils,

skeins of yarn with faded fifty-cent
mark-down stickers,
a broken clock.

Most of the saved items are gone, 
Dumpster and shredder items wait.
Bags of cancelled checks

on Mom’s closed account.
She died years ago. 
Dad’s will to maintain dissolved, too.

In the back yard his loss leaked
into the naked, open space
leaving it flat, withered.

Before the property grew sullen, 
I planted seeds for annuals that sprouted into
a tiny-stemmed miniature garden.

They dwarfed next to tomato vines 
Dad tied to hand-cut posts.
Sunlight coaxed 

white blossoms into green and then red fruit.
Inside the house Mom made soups that 
took all day to blend the chicken 

with onions, carrots, celery
into a fragrance that filled every nook.
I try to recall an ancient, lingering scent

but it was taken for granted
too long ago. I find my wedding gown 
in an eaves closet,

zipped in plastic.
I had changed my name and moved on.
The yellowed department-store receipt

remains attached to the wire hanger.
I wipe off the grime and carry what-was-me 
into what-is-me now.

The door locks for the last time.
The sun leaves a sliver of itself 
on a pink horizon,

a visible color beyond reach,
like memories, both dark and light,
locked inside things left behind.
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