Posts Tagged ‘metaphors’

“Okay, my pen was here a minute ago.”

Life is an irritation. (Anatoly Karpov, chess master)

Our tech-friendly, easy-clean, comfortable recliner couch has found a way to annoy my husband and me.

It grabs cell phones, the remote control, important papers, and occasionally a container of dental floss. It slides them into cushion crevices or onto the floor, preferably inside well-shaded, flashlight-shy areas.

As we pull out the couch to retrieve the stolen items, plugs to the mechanical parts pull out from the wall.

As we sit, the comfy cushions caress us and widen the spaces between one beige square and another. The furniture isn’t prepared for two adults and an avalanche of items operated by arthritic fingers.

How easily I get stuck in broken places and forget the beauty of what I have—forget sun and crawl into shadow. In today’s argumentative atmosphere, anxiety fills the air like dust particles.

No perfect answer. Real life refuses to fit inside a fortune cookie. It refuses to see what is good, sincere, truthful.

I think I’ll check one more time and see if I can find perspective. In a moment of meditation, in intentionally focusing on large and small examples of kindness. Balance is rarely obvious but present. I wouldn’t know what goodness and truth were if I hadn’t experienced it. Touched it. Shared it. With someone who cared about integrity.

In this incredibly imperfect world, peace to all.


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Reading between the lines


One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter—who was a child at the time—asked me, “Daddy, why are you writing so fast?” And I replied, “Because I want to see how the story turns out!” (Louis L’Amour, novelist)

My grandson and I were riding in the backseat of the car as my husband drove to kindergarten.

As we talked, Dakota picked up my second book in the Star League Chronicles. “What is your picture doing on the back?”

“Uh, I wrote the book.”

“Really?” he said. “It must have taken you at least a half-hour to write.”

“At least,” I responded. “Two years.”

My little buddy was amazed by my slow progress. I didn’t take umbrage. When my middle granddaughter saw my first book, The Curse Under the Freckles, she wanted to know where the pictures were. Grandparents, by my grandchildren’s measure, were invented as playmates, not boring adults who put together words on paper. And take years to write a single story.

Dakota and I enjoy becoming pretend pilots where the newbie Grandma-pilot does practice flights with a hundred passengers aboard. He decides how much gas a plane needs to fly cross-country. Five-dollars’ worth. Or we invent a game played in the gym with a mini football instead of a basketball.

In both plot and play, reality is suspended. Grandson and I open jet windows to shoo birds while Dakota snacks on cheese dipped in hot sauce. Literary subjects never come up.

Of course, the best fictional stories appear real as they unfold. Each life’s story has a beginning, middle, and end, often unplanned.

Sure, I wonder how my life will turn out. Change can happen in the last scene. However, savoring each day seems more satisfying than typing at deadline speed. Life’s end will come soon enough. In the meantime, I have a lot of seeds soaked in love to plant.



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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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Man has never made any material as resilient as the human spirit. (Bernard Williams)

I have just shared the news that my youngest granddaughter is doing extremely well. Her joy has leaked into me. All is well in my world. However, within minutes I learn that all is not well in another person’s world.

I greet the young woman I introduced in my April 14 post: A Child’s Wish: I Hope You Never Git Hert. She tells me she has stage-four cancer. My hug feels tense, overprotective; I wanted to relay hope, a huge cancer-crushing hope. She ran a marathon last week. That run was her choice. Chemotherapy doesn’t fit anyone’s desire.

I would reach for a second hug-try, but the lack lies within me, not within her. I haven’t processed her news yet. This can’t be real—it is. I sense frailty in her body and I want to change it. Make her well. Now.

Platitudes go nowhere. But I tell her that I thought about her at two in the morning again last night. I did. Perhaps she had taken part in an immediately forgotten dream. It doesn’t matter. Something about her inspires me. An ordinary kind of sacred. I suspect that this girl is planting seeds in people simply by being herself. She demonstrates how courage works, but the kind of growth she initiates in others doesn’t necessarily appear until later—sometimes years.

Philosophical banter is too lofty for someone who is suffering. It isn’t what she needs right now. I tell her once again that she is incredible. She smiles, briefly, as if a little light has gotten through to the part of her that doesn’t see her beauty. Enough for now maybe. Incredible is such a vague word. It doesn’t say as much as I want it to express. At some place every analogy limps. My words can only be a representation of a thought, chosen to celebrate a spirit I want to see thrive as long as possible, the life of a common hero.

She is that hero, with seeds left to plant… and she knows the fight is never easy.


Heroes Jodi P PIQ

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I am a tiny seashell
that has secretly drifted ashore
and carries the sound of the ocean
surging through its body. (
Edward Hirsch)

I may not live anywhere close to the ocean, but the ocean-sounds of my experiences remain in the short seashell-body of who I am. They hide in anyone old enough to have a past.

Yes, free will exists, but often knee-jerk reaction comes from expected hurt or rejection that has nothing to do with the moment; it involves long-ago scars formed in the evaporated sea of the past.

The love and acceptance of others creates fresh memories and the ability to see beauty—inside and outside of our shells. There are people who walk the earth who don’t know they are angels. They bring enough light for others to see beyond the expected.

Ella’s soft pink animal-print blanket lies over a chair for show—so that it can be photographed. The blanket was made to comfort her, to keep her warm during a time that promises to be difficult. Her open-heart surgery is scheduled for January 30. The large flannel square is a gift, offered by a woman who doesn’t know our little girl. Barb may or may not have seen a picture of our granddaughter. She gives because that is what she does. I told her I included photos of her creativity in my blogs. I don’t think she has ever looked at them. Praise is not her goal. A simple thank-you suffices.

I now want to be resilient like Ella and humble like Barb. I know Barb’s last name because I have finally been introduced to this gentle angel, but if anonymity serves her intentions, then publishing her first name is stretching it as far as I dare.

Once upon a time I recall being in a retreat group that was asked a rhetorical question. “What would the world be like if you hadn’t been in it?” The second question develops from the first: “What persons have touched your lives in a special way, yet never knew they blessed it?” That question was given more time.

Those people continue to arrive. And I suspect that if I am busy enough with gratitude there won’t be as much room for resentment and worry.

The sound of the ocean surges inside my metaphorical seashell. And sometimes it remembers storms; other times it recalls gentle waves and warm water. It explores each grain of sand underneath it, and knows it is not alone.

blanket made by Barb

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I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. (Agatha Christie)

Rounding I-465, entering I-74 and heading for home, trouble begins. No umpire strikes us out. An act of nature interferes. When my husband and I left St. Louis the temperature registered in the car at 99—before noon. There was enough humidity in the air to boil an egg. Now that handy-dandy gauge on the dashboard of my husband’s car indicates dramatic change: 88, 84, 78…70. Deep, dark clouds hover. A rainbow appears to the left, but to the right the darkness promises action. I pray for gentle rain at least for the next hour and a half. That’s all the time we need to reach home base. However, the blackness swells.

Breathe, Ter, Breathe!

The first lightning, almost a straight line, appears ahead, along the center of the highway. Not a pleasant omen. Within two minutes the electricity has spread. Then hail falls along with enough rain to be a waterfall. Visibility almost nil. Jay turns on his warning lights. Fortunately the car in front of us does also. I can no longer see the color of the vehicle. It was dark blue or black. Now it appears white, like the sky. Two loud splashes alongside us let us know drivers in the left lane don’t seem to be alarmed. They travel as if this day were blue, cloudless, and traffic-free. All we can do is inch ahead, hope the hail doesn’t grow larger, other drivers don’t pull anything crazy, and the storm ends.

I think about our visit with Jay’s aging mother and hope I left kindness behind. Somehow, I suspect we will make it through, but no one ever knows for sure—even on a day that appears perfect. The sun is present; it will return, I tell myself. Then I imagine calmness in my husband and pray it touches him. After all, he is fighting this battle. I am only present within it.

I wonder if one of those daring drivers decides to pull in front of us—and hits our car and not open highway, would my thoughts turn to times when I missed opportunities to do good, or said unhelpful words? Don’t know. Just speculating. And I’m grateful when that chance doesn’t happen.

We live someplace in time, under the rainbow, through the storm, among possibilities. I wonder what today holds.

pic from Positive Thoughts page

rainbow lights through trees positive thoughts


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Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken. (M. F. K. Fisher)

I wanted to get in trouble when I was in sixth grade so that I would be given a unique punishment: Write 500 words on the interior of a ping pong ball. However, I was sure that the punishment would be changed, suddenly, inexplicably, the second I chose to play the role of rebel. Besides, for me out-of-line felt as uncomfortable as drowning.

Actually, I have no idea what I would have written, probably something based on fantasy. Too many decades have passed to know for certain. I know the real me hadn’t emerged yet. It was inside that ping pong ball—or probably a better metaphor—my egg hadn’t hatched yet. While many people yearn to be young again, give me over-sixty and retired any day. Sure, it brings plenty of problems. I didn’t have arthritis then, and I didn’t need to get up at night to relieve a complaining bladder. Yet, in those days I wasn’t aware that the world held almost infinite possibilities. A zit on my chin signaled disaster. And no amount of logic could have convinced me otherwise.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why I love to get eye-to-eye with my grandchildren, let them know they are not second-class citizens because they are under age eighteen. I can’t spare them crises as they grow older, but I hope to ward off as many unnecessary traumas as possible.

“You are a natural swimmer,” I tell Rebe. Then I ask Kate to make up one more song, on the spot about a topic I give her: rainbows, sports, sunshine. The subject doesn’t matter. And most of the time my poor hearing doesn’t catch her lyrics. Doesn’t matter. My girls need to know they can do whatever they choose to do. They have potential that can break open and grow at any time. They are not the nothing inside a ping pong ball—like I thought I was.

No one is.


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Some stories are true that never happened. (Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate) 

I open a desk drawer to get the fingernail clippers and get distracted by a huge bag of rubber bands. When did I buy them? And why? The answer isn’t what matters—it’s the story, locked somewhere in the past.

Who remember events that happened every summer of childhood? Well, there was that scout trip in the sixth grade. Or was it the seventh? Memory, it’s as solid as quicksand or as good a substitute for a tennis ball as a raw egg.

My husband and I were in the same room as someone told us a story; we didn’t hear the same version. I suspect that happens often. Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”

Nevertheless, emotions draw from a different kind of truth. I look into the eyes of my grandchildren. Even though their perceptions may come from fantasy or a limited world view, the girls speak with fresh honesty.

Therefore, I want to be careful about the moments I leave in time. Some of the facts may be adjusted along the way, so I want to recognize the good in bad news, the beautiful in a broken glass, or the sweet possibilities in a lemon.

The bag of rubber bands has a gaping hole in its side. Many of the bands had to have been used. Perhaps a few have broken. Maybe some have bound important papers, while others found their way to the trash, or another state. Don’t know.

Truth lives in a deeper realm, a place poets touch yet never embrace. It passes through too many hearts.

heart cloud

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 A diamond doesn’t know how valuable it is to others. (Mark Tyrrell)

Five-year-old Rebe churns the water as she reaches the halfway point in the swim test lane. Anyone watching would have known I was her grandmother, even if I wasn’t screaming. My grin takes over my face.

Early last year she played in the shallow end—safe, preferring to stay in the pretend world. Within months she jumped off the side and let Grandpa catch her. Oh, she still loves the imaginative. But, this expansion of her spirit warms me. The next step, to tread water for a short period of time, should be easy for her, as soon as she gains the confidence. I have no doubt that she could have traveled the length of the pool, back and forth, as easily as she could have walked poolside.

You are a diamond, little girl. Your surfaces haven’t been polished yet, but, somehow, that gives the innate you even more possibility.

Of course I don’t talk to a five-year-old child in metaphors. “Good job, Rebe,” suffices.

I want my granddaughter to see her potential, her beauty. However, as I think about some grownup friends, I realize it’s not necessarily that easy to reflect the goodness I see. When someone suffers deep sadness, pain takes over.

I tell one of my friends what I see in her. She can’t look me in the eye. She isn’t ready to accept anything more than grief. And, somehow, I suspect I would not fare any better if I walked her path.

Perhaps it isn’t easy for any diamond to be shaped and formed, not easy for any person to develop either—at any age.

 In the meantime, an almost kindergartener passed her first swim test at the Y. And a yellow wrist band sparkles, in its own way.

(pic from Positive Inspirational Quotes)

becoming PIQ

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Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts. (Leo Rosten, author, 1908-1997) 

My day’s plan is to walk through the woods and take everything in without judgment, A meditative stroll, without the need to put anything into words, without thinking about work that waits at home, no thought of time. Jay and I don’t even have a camera with us. Spring has arrived, finally, and the sun is cooperative. My lightweight coat is unzipped, baseball cap on, hiking boots laced.

Nature does its part. However—I have scarcely trudged fifteen minutes before I notice how many beech trees there are along this trail. Their parchment-white leaves left from last summer break through my resolve not to capture the experience in words. Oh, I didn’t promise to stop writing. Just pause long enough to commune with nature, let it talk to me before I express an opinion.

Yeah, trees, I forgot. Your turn to talk and my turn to listen. And the wind sways the branches, teasing me, begging me to define them. The old beech leaves curl, like cocoons, without butterflies, no need to prove anything. Yet, they have withstood snow, bitter temperature, and harsh winds.

You sure jabber to yourself a lot, an old oak calls, silently of course.

I beg your pardon.

Meditation requires quieting of the mind, not analyzing, even if your conclusions create poetry. The best art mimics life; it doesn’t recreate it.

The tree hasn’t been running around, trying to find its place in creation; it already knows.

I nod and continue along the trail until my husband and I reach the lake. He takes my hand and we watch the sun play along the surface of the water.

My mind doesn’t calm easily. It asks for results, generally immediately, or at least quickly, even though I have had a lot of experience working on projects that have taken years. Not all of them have been successful in the world’s eyes. That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn. Or that I am not learning from standing still, watching water move in slow mesmerizing patterns, on an ordinary April day, as if there were nothing better to do but be aware that life can be both beautiful and good.

knowledge has no end

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