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Posts Tagged ‘Stinky Rotten Threats by Terry Petersen’

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. (William Arthur Ward)

A friend died. Minutes before I leave for my book signing, his wife asks my husband to be one of the pallbearers. Grief and relief take turns in my heart. This man’s suffering has been unbearable to watch much less endure.

Sun replaces yesterday’s rain. Both belong to nature. Necessary to life’s balance.

My simple camera can’t photograph intense sun. It translates bright rays into the red light that shines through closed eyelids. I recognize my limitations and know I am neither imperfection nor success. There are more roads to explore, continued opportunities to give and forgive, moments to live and celebrate.

Thanksgiving, the official national holiday, appears this week. I pray to be more than pumpkin pie and a stack of dishes in the sink. These memories fade into previous years like dreams lost before waking. As I get older, I notice life sends more intense challenges—with incredible blessings attached. I pray to stay longer with the blessings than the pain.

Peace to all.

 

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If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us? (Buddha)

Pool water makes movement easier. Jump and kick higher. Play like a kid.

I make eye contact with others in class who find the same freeing mood.

One lady, somewhat younger than I am, splashes and laughs as she plunges through. “My fat doesn’t protect me from the cold.”

A shine in her dark brown eyes, contrasting pale skin, radiates positive attitude. At the end of class I introduce myself. Stories about my grandchildren. My books, The Curse Under the Freckles and Stinky, Rotten Threats. She tells me about her family.

“I’ve never met a writer.” She reaches out and touches my hand. “I can’t read. I’d need a dictionary to spell no. Dyslexic.”

And yet I can’t move from her spell, the enchanting kind. She speaks of a deep faith. A different style than I understand. I don’t knock what works. The divine appears in multiple forms.

She’s worked as a cleaning lady for the wealthy. “Don’t come back if there is one dust ball in my bathroom,” one rich woman had said. This gentle cleaning lady understood the metaphor, the implied identity of the dust ball. She chose not to come back.

Days later I remember her, a power she carried. Perspective. The love she had for her husband who died eight years ago. He was a minister in her faith.

Problems appear in my life. Again. They always will. I see both solutions and losses. Neither affect personal worth. Or love from family.

The pool water washed away in a shower days ago. And yet, the touch of one ordinary woman’s hand remains with me. I pray to offer the same.

 

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Asking ourselves, “Where am I right now?” gives us a chance to step outside the internal dialogue for a moment of peace. Look around you, take a deep breath and notice what you see, hear and feel. Present moment awareness is the point of power and choice. It frees us from our compulsive thoughts. (Laura Harvey)

Okay. It’s time to organize. Or, should I have started these projects years ago? I haven’t been allowed to lift anything heavier than five pounds for more than a month. Now that my cataract surgeries are completed my eagerness to begin is heightened.

My eight-year-old grandson Dakota wants to help. He eyes the paper shredder. “Anything to shred?”

“No…Wait!” Folders lie stacked on top of one another. Copies of short stories already published. Stories I abandoned—for good reason. Early chapters of my books, The Curse Under the Freckles, Stinky Rotten Threats, and The Ugly Mood Storm. The Ugly Mood Storm, the third book in the series, will come out in October.

Sure. I could recycle the pages without shredding, but my young buddy likes the noise and the action. He knows how far away to keep his fingers from the blade, the source of the noise he enjoys.

The past returns as I open each folder. Mistakes circled in red on the page. Mistakes made in life jump out as well. Years cycle through as I open each worn folder.

“Oh,” I say.

“Something wrong?” he asks.

“No. It’s just a name of someone I used to know.” Someone who died.

He pauses to make sure I’m okay.

I celebrate the messy, beautiful present, my young grandson on the floor next to me.

Dakota continues to work, sorry when the shredder needs time to cool, sorry when the last sheet becomes a mass of white slivers. Then he is happy to play another game.

I take a deep breath and notice the whir of the air conditioning on one of the latter days of summer.

“See you next Thursday,” Dakota says.

His enthusiasm brings me a gift no amount of money can buy.

In the scheme of things where am I right now? Not sure I know, but it’s a mighty fine place.

 

 

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If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. (Harvey Mackay)


When people learn I had two books published, The Curse Under the Freckles and Stinky, Rotten Threats, they often ask if I get writer’s block. Uh, yeah, plenty of times. Especially when I try to write sunshine when I have mud in my shoes, socks, and brain. Heart and head, mind and pen need to be connected first. Somehow.

I tread water on a Sunday afternoon as dark skies invade the blue. The dark wins for now. I know blue lives on the other side, but for how long? I heard news earlier about someone who was accused of a crime. From what I’d understood about the situation, it seems to be a setup. Why? I don’t know.

Save the world—if only I could. Law. Three letters in one word is nowhere near enough. My paper remains blank. No answers.

One hug for a friend. Hope. Many prayers.

In the meantime, I swim through water or through injustice. Giving up is not an option. Peace and integrity are. May they win.

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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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The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. (Patrick Young)

Icebergs in polar regions and desert heat rarely make weather channel news. In the part of the world where I roam, weather news has the reliability of gossip. Maybe the broadcast will fit. Maybe not.

In the meantime, life continues at the same continuous pace.

Right now, I am my own pain in the neck. More accurately, I have cervical damage, caused by carrying the same head for years. The weather irritates, but it didn’t create the problem.

Nature’s plan? Unpredictable. Like the flight of a lightning bug. The destination of a running toddler. The future of a random seed.

I have a book signing on Saturday from 1-4 PM. Several inches of snow could get in the way. If the forecast takes a just-kidding route, anyone who doesn’t need to be beamed up Star-Wars style is invited.

Nor’easters, hurricanes, and tornadoes are bullies without negative intention. I suspect casting blame is counterproductive. Action matters.

The tree in my backyard carries snow—on the second day of spring. Photo Booth’s Thermal Camera turns the snow blue, as if it were a lake. The pic doesn’t represent warmth or cold, however. The app on my iPad provides more game than fact. Something like predicting changeable weather.

We are all pawns in that realm. How I decide to deal with the challenge is another matter. Okay, I admit it. I’m still working on it. Ouch!

 

 

 

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I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”   (Kurt Vonnegut)

No point putting my socks back on—my feet are covered with sand—from my son’s backyard sandbox. Yes, this senior citizen has been playing with dump trucks and plastic buckets. I follow the lead of my favorite kindergartner, Dakota.

He asks about what kind of work both my husband and I have done, and what I do now.

I state as simply as possible the jobs we had in young-person language. “I write books now.”

“Sounds boring.” He rams a motorcycle over a sand ramp. A wheel falls off. He grins as he clicks it back on.

I suppose when an individual’s written vocabulary is limited to one and two-syllable words, it could be. My granddaughter Ella has been reading since she was four. Different interests.

But, I don’t say anything. I let his opinion stand and heap a plastic shovel of packed sand into the next project, a castle. The building lasts almost three seconds before Dakota smashes it and turns it into something else. Another truck obstacle.

At age six, the pretend world is always in progress.

Next, he introduces me to a new Wii game. I have no aptitude for sports in the tangible world. On the flat screen, my lack reaches a new low.

“Well, I guess you win again,” I say.

We are ready to go outside for more activity, and he takes my hand. A gentle gesture. Dakota is considerate. I mentioned once today as I swung an invisible baseball bat, that I was thirsty and he ran to get me water, with ice. He also wanted to wash dishes, but left the big knife for me. A smart decision.

By tomorrow, my at-home to-do list will be too long to fit on the side of a mile-long wall. Those tasks will wait. Today I spend time with a young gentleman who doesn’t care about what I can or what I can’t do. He knows I care a lot about him, and he cares a lot about me. We are family, and that is all that matters.

You are right, Mr. Vonnegut. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

(photo-shopped public domain photo)

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The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace. (Carlos Santana, musician)

I don’t take breathing for granted—not after a two-month fight with asthma and bronchial issues. Then I broke my hand and the complications escalated. My second book in the Star League Chronicles, Stinky, Rotten Threats, came out.

While my hand was in a brace, a pen could have been a foreign object. For weeks after my hand was freed, I wrote with a strayed moth-like path across the page. Typing wasn’t much better, slower, yet possible. My twisted middle finger crossed over my ring and little finger.

I continue with occupational therapy to correct the problem. My handwriting is legible. Pain is minimal.

Now, as I drive in the rain I wonder what to do next. Each day I missed allowed my work to get lost among the grand onslaught of well-known-first-to-be picked publications, then independent press and self-published books.

In my new fantasy, Chase and his friends face evil capable of destroying their magic woods and killing their leader. The kids don’t give up; they can’t. And, of course, as the writer, I saw snags appear along my way—like a computer that turned itself off as I finished final edits the day before my deadline. The gosh-darned-electronic-device erased a whole slew of edits.

No, I didn’t take that incident as a quit-while-you-can prophecy. I understood it as a challenge. (After a few cleansing yet non-repeatable expletives) Can I do the same with my health issues?

I begin the uphill drive home when I see a woman walking with a cane in the downpour. If only I had Star League powers… Maybe magic tools don’t exist in real life, but I do have an umbrella. And several more at home. I pull over and call to the woman, offer protection from the deluge, albeit late. Her hair hangs drenched in her face.

“I’m almost home, but…” She pauses. “Thank you. Not many people would stop and do that. You can pray for me, though. My name is Geneva.” She stands in the wet and shows no sign of urgency. “I paid my rent. I really did. My landlord says I didn’t. He’s going to evict me.”

I am dry inside the car, yet feel a sudden chill. “Of course, I will.”

Geneva asks for nothing else. The futility of a one-umbrella gift hits me, and yet she says, “You’ve made my day, though. Thank you. Thank you more than I can say.” She turns and continues to walk.  Without the umbrella. Uphill, far more uphill than I drive. Far more uphill than any challenge I face.

As the day passes I’m tempted to go back and look for Geneva. Perhaps, I will find her again. I don’t know. In the meantime, I pray not to forget that moment. Or her.

Photo: Sun and Rain

The sunflower appeared compliments of a visiting bird. No sunflower seeds were planted. It was nature’s gift.

 

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It’s important to see how we can advance in healing wounds. (Ricardo Lagos)

When I tell a good long-time friend that I’m seeing my orthopedist on Friday, she shares experience I hadn’t considered. Doc’s expected first request: “Make a fist.”

The inevitable surfaces. My middle finger has more arthritis than muscle and bone. It had old-lady inflexibility before my hand had a major conflict with the concrete—and lost.

We’re talking about pain. Healing rarely includes magic-wand results. My gut reaction says run from impending digital distress, but I have a book signing to schedule, a guitar waiting for me to take it out of its case, a real-life schedule to maintain, blogs to type with more than one finger, my next book to write, as well as grandchildren who bring no-time-to-sit-still joy.

I remove the brace and unwrap a foreign hand. Hi, there, righty. Want to shake hands with lefty? Or at least curve across the top surface of her flesh for a while?

We’ll work together, every part of me, past and present. As a girl child reared in the middle of the twentieth century I was taught to have no needs. The older woman Terry speaks against such nonsense. A warehouse needs stock before it can distribute goods. A flower needs the power of seed—within itself—to flourish.

Healing wounds. A lifelong process. I’m not sure what I can expect on Friday, but this isn’t Friday.  Today, I curl and uncurl uncooperative fingers as the sun and rain take turns in the summer day skies.

Thanks for the photo, hubby Jay

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A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.  (Alan Kay)

I awaken from a short evening nap on the couch at my brother-in-law’s house. I can’t breathe. One inhalation of albuterol, two. Desperate, wheezy attempts to get air out of my lungs.

“Should I take you to the ER?” my husband asks.

We are six hours from home. The ER could be one mile away or as far away as Mercury. I don’t know. Finally, a pause between coughs. Water. More water.

I decide I will make it through the night. My brother-in-law escorts me to the most efficient air-conditioned room. My sister-in-law sleeps on the floor. I remain in a recliner I can’t adjust with a fractured right hand in a brace. My sister-in-law maneuvers the chair up and down as I need it, even for my nighttime bathroom trips. She needs to leave for work at eight in the morning, yet is willing to help me.

My wheezing doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t reach a critical level. I have no idea how much time lapses between albuterol rescue inhalations.

A frightening scene? Maybe. However, my in-laws are close-by. Jay is in a room next door. Love lives here. It fills me. Night will not give up a single hour of darkness. Yet, light survives. In hearts and minds.

A trip to Urgent Care. Antibiotics. Prednisone. More waiting to be the full me I recognize.

To breathe freely.

To turn the key in my car’s ignition with my right hand.

To sign Stinky, Rotten Threats, Book Two in the Star League Chronicles, now available, with a signature that doesn’t look as if I were pretending to wield an electric saw struck by lightning.  

To cut my own sandwiches.

To celebrate the ordinary.

The magic available in fantasy doesn’t exist on the everyday plane. The magic available inside the human spirit has power. It changes perspective. I’d like to say my IQ is 80 points higher because I learned to accept and appreciate care.

More likely, I’m simply a lot happier.

The same flower, in darkness and in light

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