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Archive for June, 2015

Isn’t it strange how life won’t flow, like a river, but moves in jumps, as if it were held back by locks that are opened now and then to let it jump forward in a kind of flood? (from “Clear Light of Day”  (Anita Desai)

I watch Ella as she lives fully in the moment. Mickey Mouse, Dora the Explorer, and a miniature My Little Pony take turns going down a plastic slide. Grandma joins the adventures. Reality adjusts to fit the scene. However, Grandma sees the dust as the sun streams in from the window, the mess that needs to be cleaned later, and an agenda that won’t fit into twenty-four hours. Ella recognizes play and infinite possibilities.

Breathe in for a count of five; breathe out for a count of ten, I tell myself. Yes, I am capable of imagination. “The Curse Under the Freckles,” coming out in early August, is a middle-grade fantasy novel. However, transferring that experience from a controlled page into everyday life is another matter. I need the example of a child, the vision of a little girl who can have open-heart surgery and then, less than a week later, return to her toys as if no time had lapsed at all.

Right now I am praying—a lot—for friends and family facing huge challenges. One has a cyst on her brain; the other is in the hospital with Crohn’s disease. And, of course I always think about my companion with stage-four breast cancer. Several years ago I thought I had gall bladder problems. I wasn’t even close. There was a blood clot in the lower portion of my lung, a pulmonary embolism. The predisposition is hereditary.

I took far longer to recover than my granddaughter did. I was focused on Desai’s metaphorical current and Ella lives its river, locks, jumps, and all. Oh, she fought harder than I did! She hollered, “No,” every step of the way, but she was thoroughly present.

I pick up an old Ronald-McDonald-in-a-plane toy and fly it upside down. “Hey, turn this thing around, will you, Mawmaw?” I say. “I’m going to fall out!”

Ella laughs. Maybe I’m learning.

slide

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Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. (Carrie Snow )

My husband Jay, our good friend Tom, and I are leaving our house to check out a second computer. Since writing is my work I spend a great deal of time at the keyboard.  This does not mean I want to behave like a little kid yelling mine, mine, mine! Besides, at the moment, our laptop is as cooperative as an overburdened mule—we are debating buying two new computers.

Several friends who work in the electronics field have checked-out our baby. They have never found the source of her inconsistency. Sometimes she operates reasonably well. At other times maneuvering through the Internet is like driving through a construction zone when traffic is stopped on both sides of the road: Bridge out. Workers at lunch. Ordinary operation to resume sometime in the future. Maybe.

As I lean down to get into the car a strange sensation hits me, a dizziness that isn’t exactly vertigo, but doesn’t feel in-upright-control either. I mention it, but use a tone of voice that suggests mild irritation—not the level of discomfort I’m actually feeling.

“Maybe it’s the change in temperatures,” Tom suggests. After all it is cool in the house, hot outside, and then cool again in the car. He could be right. And I don’t want to stay home. Jay scheduled this time with Tom last week. We need the help of someone who can navigate us through complicated possibilities.

Tom’s temperature-change suggestion sounds reasonable and I breathe slowly as if all were completely well. However, as we arrive before the huge array of laptop models, the real reason for my bizarre sensation arises. A migraine warning. Strange that I didn’t consider the possibility at the time. Great! I am going to be as useful as a wet handkerchief during a sneeze-attack.

“So what do you think?” Jay and Tom ask as they get close to a decision.

“Not much.” I have to admit the migraine is winning. “We’ll get something for Jay now. For me, later.” At this point my mate could have said, “I’ll take everything in aisle three and I would have responded, “Okay.” I wouldn’t have caught a word.

I’m sure we make the trek home, but all I recall is falling into bed and hoping for a short-term coma. Several hours later my head isn’t any better, and the new computer has taken a turn for the worse as well. Apparently our virus protection has been fighting our Internet server and putting up some serious interference. No wonder our laptop took so long to open anything. Our server had 311 foreign viruses on it, Trojan variety. Tom suggests a service he uses for fix-it-over-the-phone through Microsoft. The task took hours, but the cleaning process helped my computer as well. It now works reasonably well.

I now wonder about Internet servers. The news is filled with stories about compromised information. I am grateful that we had sufficient virus protection to keep baby laptop at least alive. However, the opportunity to sell services also becomes murky territory. Knowledge, in understandable language, is always welcome.

My migraine has now ended. I can see the short-term blessings clearer. While I was focusing on getting from the store to the bed and then back into my own consciousness I didn’t have the energy to enter the battles our buddy Tom was fighting for Jay and me. Now I can simply be grateful that he is savvy and generous. He arrived at our house at noon for lunch and left long after dark.

Yes, there is a lot of evil in the world. But there is a lot of good as well. Tom doesn’t want pay. He is grateful for homemade soup at noon and takeout Chinese for dinner. Thanks, Tom! You are worth your weight in megabytes.

two computers

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When you are grateful—when you can see what you have—you unlock blessings to flow in your life. (Suze Orman)

As I wait for the green light at an intersection in my neighborhood, I suspect the driver of the old black truck coming from the other direction is in a hurry although I can’t cite any evidence to prove this is true. My heart and mind are not focused on racing. The transience of existence slows my thoughts. I’m on my way to a funeral.

Let the driver make the first move, I tell myself. And see if I am simply being hyper-vigilant. The truck turns with jet-action speed a split section after the light changes.

We would have collided.

I thank God, then recall my best friend Linda’s intuition last night. We were at an outdoor concert. The air got thick and hot. I felt tightness in my chest and started coughing. “I think we’d better go,” she said. “The air is getting just too heavy.”

Lightning flashed in the distance. No thunder. However, we had scarcely hit the highway when the rain came down with such fury I could have sworn we were traveling underwater. Our friend Tom kept his cool as he drove. And I was grateful to arrive home safely.

Now I say goodbye to a friend’s granddaughter. She lived a good life. She was loved. She had autism; it did not own her. I never met the girl and yet her picture in the obituary notice draws me to her. I know her grandmother. And I understand grief. People who have special-needs folk in their lives appreciate the beauty of the bond possible with them.

I think about the wound on my Ella’s chest and wonder how long it is going to take to heal. And yet it will heal. Eventually. It only seems like an eternity.

We can’t celebrate everyone we love forever. I wish I had understood the power of each moment years ago. Actually, I wish I could carry that knowledge into the times that seem boring, difficult, or annoying. Now. As they are occurring and not later.

Intuitions are gifts. The scene at the light saved me from a serious accident. My friend’s insight saved four long-time friends from a mob in a thunderstorm. Neither incident spared me from the real world or a finite existence. Chances are tomorrow will offer opportunities to laugh, cry, get angry, enthused, embarrassed, frightened, anxious, or inspired.

I pray to cling to the gifts.

a smile from God

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To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness. (Robert Brault)

Several years ago Jay and I were at the Y kiddie pool with Ella when the children from the special-needs class had their outdoor time.

“Ella looks like she could be Payton’s little sister,” one of the teachers commented.

The resemblance was amazing: blonde, blue-eyed girls, both with loveable auras. I found myself watching Ella’s look-alike and telling her she was incredible, but not to drink the pool water. A grandmother’s kind of response.

Recently I met the beautiful lady who calls herself Payton’s sister. She isn’t. Sisters aren’t always this close. Bethany has babysat for Payton since she was considered legally old enough to be a responsible child. Their meeting was a coincidence, or as one of my friends calls it, a God-incidence.

Bethany’s mother delivered frozen food to people who had difficulty picking it up. She knew Payton’s family because she had worked as an assistant at her school, but had been laid off during a financial cutback. Bethany had just happened to be tagging along when her mother made the delivery.  Bethany’s mother treated each child in the school as a valuable individual. Therefore, Bethany learned respect for all persons naturally.  Three-year-old Payton could easily reach her with the beauty of her spirit. A relationship developed.

Bethany could love Payton for no reason and shower her with reasons.

Payton does not speak. When she was six years old she was tested for autism. She has both autism and Down syndrome. These limitations do not stop her from being a good friend and an A-plus example of unconditional love.

Bethany has chosen to act as Payton’s legal guardian. Will this be difficult at times? Maybe, maybe not. No worthwhile choice is without risk.

Recently I spoke to someone who doesn’t know Ella. I told her about our granddaughter’s open heart surgery. The woman nodded, with me until I mentioned Down syndrome. Then came the stepped-back oh-I’m-sorry look. Neither Ella nor Payton are their tripled chromosome any more than my essence is summed up in my height, weight, or allergic status.

Meet Bethany and Payton. And find blessings.

collage made by Bethany in honor of National Down Syndrome Day

Bethany and Payton collage

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Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream. (John Cheever)

My husband asks me where I would like to go on vacation.

“I have fond memories of Michigan,” I answer. “We went there when I was in grade school.”

He decides on Ontario, but knows I won’t complain. Vacation decisions are in his corner. Not only can’t I read a map that leads to our local grocery store, world exploration isn’t on my radar. Sure I had a fantastic time in Norway and Bavaria. I have a fantastic time walking in the woods, entertaining friends and family, or singing karaoke, even though I’m a soprano and the crowd is made up of half-drunk folk who would rather hear Willie Nelson. Okay, I’m not crazy about being around the inebriated. Change that scene to a senior center filled with the hearing impaired.

I am peculiar and know it. Capturing the world by visiting each place isn’t as important to me as capturing the words that explain the world. I write regularly for Piker Press. Three of my poems will appear in FOR A BETTER WORLD 2015. I have been involved with their mission for the past five years. My first novel, a middle-grade fantasy, should come out before school starts. It is being published through Post Mortem Press, a small but mighty independent publisher. The press specializes in horror, but has branches that include other works such as cozy mysteries by Patricia Gligor. Her fourth book, “Mistaken Identity,” will be coming out in about two weeks. Pat and I are in the same critique group; she is an excellent resource and a superb writer.

I will be talking more about my chapter book later.

For now I simply want to say that everyone floats a different boat. And that is okay. Sometimes, as I drive I wonder how to describe what I see—from diverse points of view. How would this roadway look to someone with a serious illness? To a man on his way to settle an important deal, or lost? I can wake up at two in the morning and be aware of a story notion before I notice that my bladder is overfull. Peculiar is probably not an adequate description. And yes, if you want to feel sorry for my husband, I understand.

“Sweetheart, I recorded a show you will really like,” he says.” Josh Groban should be on any second.”

“Okay,” I answer. “I just need to write one more line.” Always just one more line.

Who knows? Maybe one of these days I will follow every word when he explains a sports play. Stranger things have happened. He and my sons were my mentors in the first portion of my chapter book. Thanks, guys.

What makes you wake up and feel more alive?

weird writers from screenwriting u

 

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