the knot’s tale

I perch here at the island with my spiral open and waiting before me. Always waiting … ink glides across the lined paper with only a little effort.   Words form one sweet letter at a time.  Healthy pauses.  Renewed thought. Words traveling more up than down.  They are like the weight of a stone slowing me and yet… lifting me. I wonder if they come stronger with pain. Or, not really.  They are the same thoughts after all…strung together like carefully knotted pearls.  A lovely circle, never perfect…


once upon a time…

Each pearl was specially chosen and placed.  String was laid out.  By the hand of a master they were tied together, forever as one.  They were not slid haphazardly in a line  leaving them to bump and scrape at one another. That is a good way to lose them all.  No.  One pearl. One nearly invisible knot of love.  Alternating, first one and then the other.  One iridescent beauty.  One common bit of white.  The one to shine.  The other to hold.  All at once they come together as one treasured whole!

Then, one day…a very fragile place wears thin…breaks wide.  But, because of the knots, one doesn’t lose everything.  Without them there would be a chaos of bouncing and rolling, hither and yon…gone forever.  The one pearl at the breaking point must be gathered and saved.  The rest remain tightly together.

The eternal circle is only a line now.  It may be laid out and admired but it can no longer be worn. Put them away for a long while.  It is too painful to look upon them and to remember. At first there is only the brokenness. One separated from the others and rather lost.  A deep sigh. Wrap them tenderly in tissue and tuck them away in a special place.


They will wait.  Until…you are ready.  One day you think of them and know.  It is time…a search for the tissue wrapped treasure ensues.  Unfolded so gently with a beating heart.  It has been so long.  There they wait in a lovely heap not looking as broken as you remembered.  A sweet dawn of hope embraces you.  You had almost forgotten how very much they favored tiny full moons at rest in your palm.  Oh… their familiar coolness so refreshing to the touch brings a warm smile.

The delicate undertaking begins.  The solitary task of starting anew.  An empty space in which to create.  Light to see what lies before you. A lifetime of lessons reminding you of your own true north.  The softest music. The surest hand to guide both pearls and thread. They wait. You wait.  Waiting only for a gentle touch to bring them whole again.


Painstakingly, one at a time the tiniest knot is created between each pearl.   Almost invisible, it surrenders all of its fame to the pearl it protects. The silky white thread bestows space.  Each pearl is free!  Free to be quietly unto itself while still keeping a special place as part of the whole.  Therein lies the gentle strength of the knot.  The smallest bit of string unnoticed on most days, wisely and carefully tied creates the most loving bond between each precious full moon.

The pearl held forever by the strong knotted silk. Oh, how lovingly they come together… circle upon circle always…

Enough time has past.  You are ready once more to enjoy their beauty.  One was very nearly lost.  With patience and loving care they have come round into the circle they were always meant to be.

Only you hold the memory of the broken place and of the one that was almost lost.  A single tear falls for that long ago moment as you clasp them around your neck…afraid to look in the mirror.  A smile that nods tenderly to the sorrows of the past just as surely as it reaches hopefully to the future. Take them between your fingers, a gentle back and forth just to remind yourself they are really there, where they should be.

the end…

no, never the end.

that which is most dear will never be lost if you will only knot it lovingly in your heart and wait…

always and forever the beginning…

Advertisements

Jack j juice box

Few things are more wonderful than easing into wakefulness from the heart of a just because nap, an honest to goodness close your eyes and drift off if you want to, nap.  No bells or alarms jolting you into the present moment where you must hurry because you’re already five items behind on your to do list.  I’ve just had the bliss of one on this perfect September Sunday.  Jack is still heavy across my ankles, his favorite way to sleep.  The dogs are still dreaming.  It’s easiest for me to write when they are as still as a breezeless pond. Even that is deceptive.  They are only recharging for their next round of mayhem! 



Have you ever experienced a juice box? Yes, I’m talking about that small handheld invention – a box filled with juice in varying flavors accessible by a straw of matching size and cuteness.  Deceptive.  If you’ve ever gone round with one you’ll know why I call it an “experience”.  If you haven’t, I urge you to go forth and find one immediately if not sooner.  It’s something you’ll never forget.  You must find out for yourself.  It may in fact change your whole life.  Well, perhaps that’s a tad overstated.  But, you never know.
And if you think that one juice box is a wimpy experience, that you’re ready for so much more…or…you’re simply embarrassed to partake of a juice box as a great big grown up all alone….well, then I recommend that you make your way to the nearest preschool and enjoy your life changing experience with a dozen 3-5 year olds.  I dare you.



Ok, ready? Here goes.  A juice box is a tiny little thing, rather cute. Innocent and adorable it waits for you to come closer.  They  actually come in a variety of shapes but for our purposes we will focus on the box.  Pick it up. Turn it over in your hand.  Wow, pretty sturdy.  And how good of them to include such a tiny matching straw.  hmmm.  Here’s where you come upon your first challenge, to ease the straw protected by its own plastic sleeve away from the box.  Warning, if you mess this up you do not win the straw.  In fact it will crimp in the middle and you’ll end up fighting for every drop of juice through a mangled straw.

Assuming you tear it successfully away from the box you now face your next challenge. You must free the straw from its protective sleeve that I’m pretty sure was designed by NASA to withstand the fires of  re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.  In the tackling of this step, do not – I repeat – do not –  do anything to flatten the pointy end of “cute little straw”.  Not so cute anymore, huh.  You’re going to need that pointy end to stab through the miniscule foil covering – also designed by NASA.  



So, straw meets foil.  If you’re too gentle your juice will never see the light of day.  If you’re too exuberant it will explode in your hand like some sort of mini volcano.  (Have you ever noticed how the word mini makes everything sound that much cuter.  Seriously. Try it while you’re enjoying your juice.) 

Even if you’ve made it this far things can still go miserably wrong.  You see, you have to hold it right.  Yep, there’s a right way to hold the cutie pie.  Side to side at the edges is best.  If you grip it in the middle the whole thing can easily turn into a fountain.  Juice will be everywhere that  you don’t want it and sadly missing from the one place you do want it, namely your tummy.  



Lest I have scared you off I assure you they are totally worth the effort.  The juice is fantastic once you finally get to it.  You are allowed to make a satisfying slurping noise when you reach the bottom.  Some boxes will even cave in and change shape as you drain them becoming an artistic sculpture worthy of being displayed at any reputable museum of modern art. What’s not to love about that?

Juice boxes are a fine science and to be honest I’m not certain how preschoolers stay hydrated in the face of such adversity.



Since we’re already in preschool let’s talk about glitter!  With your trusty juice box by your side all you need now is paper, glue, and glitter for some good old fashioned fun.  A clean piece of white paper layed on a sturdy surface, (not your grandmother’s mahogany table).  Take the bottle of Elmer’s glue and swirl to your hearts content.  This way and that with no rhyme or reason.  Add…Glitter! Shake it from the bottle.  Pour it from a spoon.  Sprinkle it with your fingers.  Just keep going until your paper has disappeared under the weighty beauty of the sparkly bits.  Gently lift at the corners letting all the excess fall away leaving behind  only what held firm to the glue.  There! Beautiful! And would you look at that, there we are again – the art of letting go leaving behind nothing but joy. One day we’ll learn. Maybe.

Glitter sticks!  It sticks in the carpet, to your hands, furniture, face, you name it.  It makes its way absolutely everywhere and doesn’t give up easily. I know people who cringe at the sight of it.  Oh no, that crafty art project will have to stay behind.  I’ll never get rid of all that glitter.  My question is, why would you want to.  It’s so much fun.  Still,  for many it is left behind out of fear and the desire for perfection.  Perfect carpet.  Perfect furniture.  Perfect life.  



But life in all of its ups and downs is a profoundly messy thing.  Dirt falling from paws and the shedding of fur is as messy as glitter but I will never trade the joy of it for a perfect floor.  

Jack is my September puppy.  My juice box. My glitter.  

Three years ago Jack gazed at me with those warm brown eyes.  I gathered him up.  He didn’t squirm to get loose.  He didn’t try to chew on me.  He gently nuzzled into my neck as though he was home and had belonged there all along. He hardly moved at all, happy to  just be in my arms, as though he could finally rest.  Jack is mine. Or rather, I am his.  He chose me as surely as a preschooler chooses their favorite flavor of juice. I was helpless to resist. Such perfect precious innocence…

 Um, no. Precious, maybe. Perfect and innocent? No way.  Jack is the mess that sticks without glue.  How often do I shake my head and sigh – oh, jack. 



Jack is the reason I get up so early to write.  When he was a puppy he insisted with both voice and paw that I awaken early, as in 4:30 crazy early! I soon realized that he only wanted me to move to the den where he would settle in and return to sleep.  What is that about?!  Hmmm.  As long as I was up anyway I might as well make the best of it and write in the quiet hours before dawn.  

It is Jack who cornered the poor beaver.  It is Jack who steals the toys. It is Jack who will dig a hole to the center of the earth’s core.  It is Jack who knows all of the neighbors on a first name basis. It is Jack who whimpers in the hallway begging to be noticed.  It is Jack who will do his best Paul Bunyan impression trying to carry an entire tree branch, even if it’s only for a few feet.  It is Jack who sends Bo scurrying under the picnic table.  It is Jack who actually does the yoga pose downward facing dog.  It is Jack’s name that I call in the woods when I want all of my companions to come along.  It is strange indeed how all of the dogs come bounding in response to his name. It gives me a hearty smile.  It is Jack who can round up an entire herd of cows in under two minutes. That’s a real sight to see! It is Jack who is a little Casanova. 



It is Jack who greets me with an actual cry of delight when I return home after an absence.  Whether I’ve been away for 5 minutes or 5 hours makes no difference to him. He is overcome with joy that I am no longer invisible.  It is Jack who finds things, things that I didn’t even know were lost… Jack is my life changing juice box. Jack is my brilliant little mess that sticks to every part of my life with the tenacity of glitter.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Hidden in the heart of the messy places, the ones you least expect, there is where your joy is.  Life is a complicated adventure.  You cannot create one without a bit of bother and a touch of glue.  I will never trade a glittery mess for picture perfect.  It’s just not worth it.  Life is short.  Even when it’s long, it’s short.  Too short to be afraid of a juice box .  Too short not to take the glittery masterpiece home with you.  Embrace the mess…and let go of the rest.


asterisks and missing pieces


her heart was rent, her center would not hold – Sarah Ban Breathnach

I have spent the second part of my life breaking the stones, drilling the walls, smashing the doors I placed between the light and myself in the first part of my life. – Octavio Paz



My Dad loves puzzles these days.  The ones made of cardboard that when all the pieces fit just so, it comes together to reveal a beautiful image.  

This morning I have kept the world at arms length.  My quiet side cried out for whispers of grace descending from the tree tops. To write.  To manage a whole thought at once rather than broken into crumbs spilled upon the counter.  They will never be whole again.  They’re fine as they are of course.  Crumbs add a lovely crunch to the top of a casserole.  Crumbs are a feast fit for the birds. The dogs will happily devour every single one of them and ask for more.

But crumbs do not give the beauty of a whole picture.  There is nothing well rounded and finished about them. They are only bits that are no longer part of the story.    

300, 500, 1,000 piece puzzles dumped onto a table look like a big pile of crumbs. But these are different. These have edges and corners. In time and with diligence they will fit together just right.  They will become what they were always meant to be, a lovely image.  For now though, they are a messy pile and where in the world does one begin?  

 I know the rules of the game.  Of course there are rules.  There are always rules, even when they’re unspoken ones.  Edges come first and foremost.  Define the parameters. Create the form. Then and only then can one begin  to get to the good stuff, the heart of the thing.  An image begins to emerge. Pieces begin to fit.  You See Something.  Excitement builds.  I got this.  One piece and then another. Until…




A snag. You’re closing in on completion but something’s missing.  Hopefully all the pieces are present and accounted for.  Hopefully nothing has fallen to the floor or gotten itself hidden somehow.  Yes, puzzle pieces do have the ability to move from place to place without your help.  Didn’t you know?  What follows is a frenzied and all out search.  It can’t be!  It Has to be here.  You’re on hands and knees combing every inch of the floor.  You revisit the empty box…for the fourth time, just to be sure.  

You fight the puzzle.  You fight yourself.  You’ve been looking too hard for too long.  You can no longer see.  

Walk away. Take a break. Give your eyes a rest   Let the puzzle wait.  It’s not going anywhere. Maybe it is…but that’s another story altogether, a fairy tale I think.  When you return the piece shows itself.  It was hidden amongst the others all along.  There in plain sight.  One has to let go to see.  It fits right into its place snug along the edges and hugging all the curves.  The puzzle is done.  The image is complete.  You stand back and admire the beauty of it with great satisfaction.  A momentary victory.  A small oohrah! 

Already your mind races forward. Hmmm. Do I leave it here? After all, it took me so much time.  I should enjoy my efforts for a while.  If I do that though, I won’t be able to use the table.  Hmmm.  I could glue it. Then I could admire it forever.  I’m not much for that though. I’d have to store it or frame it or who knows what else.  Hmmm.  There’s only one thing to be done.  Dismantle it.  Take it apart.  Tuck all the little pieces safely at home in their box.  Put it aside for another day or another person to enjoy.  The time of this puzzle has come and gone.  It lingered for awhile but now it’s time to let it go.  

I’m not much of a puzzle person to be honest. I’d rather be moving about or painting or…writing.  Words are my pieces and writing is my puzzle.  I love to gaze at the empty page. My pen is poised and  ready…when my thoughts catch up to me and the words come together just so.  Yes, yes, that one hugs the others perfectly.  Or, the inevitable scratch out… no, no, that’s not what I mean at all.  



I pause over the messy page not quite knowing where to go next. – I guess I should walk the dogs.  After all they’ve been staring at me for a good 20 minutes now, and wrestling with one another in doggy fashion beneath my feet.  We’ve been soooo good for soooo long.  Seriously.  Don’t you need a break? Aren’t we cute?  You should really stop what you’re doing for a while and play with us instead.  It’ll be good for you.  Promise.  They’re right of course.  They always are.  I let out a sigh of great exasperation at their infinite and all encompassing wisdom that I have to work so hard for.

Shoes on my feet.  Music to settle my soul.  Off we go then.  Trees above.  Dirt beneath.  My joyful four legged companions.  I walk and I wait. I wait for the right words to find me.  Always, they do.

Whenever I fight it, the puzzle, the words, the dailiness of life, it never works out then.  I waste myself spinning ever inwards tightening to a place so small that I cannot see the missing piece.  It waits patiently in plain sight.  It is in letting go that I gently circle forth again just as the graceful curves of a paper nautilus spiral outwards beautifully away from self. Only then does my vision clear enough to see what was right before me all along.



My Dad is the smartest man I’ve ever known.  He was never much of a puzzle person either, the cardboard variety.  But give him a real life problem and just watch his engineering brain take hold and keep on.  He wasn’t afraid to take anything apart in his thoughts or with his hands over and again until he had completely mastered the what and how and why of it.  Still, sometimes the solution evaded him.  Seemingly, he would let go of the whole dilemma.  His efforts turned to bread making or gardening.  Often he would wander through a well loved book, the old fashioned kind.  None of this e-reader stuff.  Dad read books that feel heavy in your hand as they carry you to another place and time. He kept a pencil near when he read so as to make his signature asterisk to mark the passages he found most meaningful.  Oh how I love to come across one of Dad’s asterisks, a hidden treasure to be sure.  



Suddenly the answer was there hovering just within reach of him and he’d go back to the problem now able to fill in the missing piece.  Done! Complete! Whole! 

And then, he put it away.  Dad knew better than to leave a “done puzzle” on the table to be stared at.  He knew when it was time to gather it up, put it back in its box, and pass it along.  He learned all the lessons the puzzle offered him, pondered every piece as he held it in his hands. He knew all too well that the blessing of the puzzle was in the journey of it, never in the preservation of it.  Time to let go to make room for the next one. 

Like me, Dad was never much interested in cardboard puzzles. He was far more fascinated by the ones of real life. But these days Dad works at the beautiful cardboard pieces with a quiet intensity.  He can just manage 100 pieces and even that takes time.  The daily puzzles of his life have changed.  They’ve become something different than they were before.  He no longer solves big things for many.  But, you should see his warm contented smile when he fits that final piece of the image right where it belongs.  And then just as easily, he lets the whole thing go.  The journey of one puzzle beautifully complete. The thrill of the next waiting just within reach…

I love you Dad


…here I am



I did not intend to write today.  Nevertheless, here I am.  my walk was long.  The air is sweet!  So sweet I can hardly take it in. Too sweet for August…



I feel a bit guilty saying that because the reason is Harvey.  My lovely air is a byproduct of the hurricane which is causing such disaster elsewhere.  His rain will reach me soon enough.  That’s why I walk longer today.  If it comes in strong, the creek will flood.  It will be hard to cross to our regular stomping ground. Then I will be faced with too many paws to count going stir crazy beneath my feet indoors! 



 But…today is lovely.  The dogs are content and so at ease exploring the field and forest. Returning every few minutes to dutifully check on my whereabouts.  Perhaps an exuberant acknowledgment that we were apart for sixty whole seconds!  Yes yes I missed you too! 




The music!  Today the notes were just so.  Round and full and just right. A score to walk by! Cleared my thoughts and put a swing in my step! 




The air is unexpectedly cool.  August has been an unexpected delight. I am touched by both.  I guess… one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or days by their month.  One may miss so many lovely moments that way.  I am humbled and grateful for such treasure.  My prayers are with all who struggle on through this weather.  Forward we go into September! May it be brilliant and bring you great joy! 



Ellie – On Chesil Beach

Ellie
Well, I guess it’s about time you were formally introduced to Ellie….
Ellie May. Ellie Belly Bear. Lelly Belly Bear. Miss Googlebutton.  My sweet Ellie girl. I have been waiting for just the right moment to introduce you to my Ellie.

She found her way to me eight short years ago as a puppy in need of a good home, a family. I very nearly did nothing. You see, in the span of a few short weeks I had lost two of my four constant companions to time and age. My heart was still raw with loss and grief. I wasn’t so sure that I was ready to open up a new chapter just yet. Rose and Katie were still in the prime of life and full of love and adventure.

A neighbor down the street thought differently. She had been at a corner store where someone was giving away puppies. Something about the people and the puppy didn’t add up for her. It tugged away at her until she could no longer ignore it and she brought the puppy home. All the while she knew quite well that her husband didn’t like dogs and would never let her keep it. But my neighbor had faith that she could find a good home for the little one. That’s where I come in, of course. Mrs. K. had seen me with my own dogs. She knew full well that I was a dog person. That’s a mild understatement. And so her question came prefaced with a compliment to soften me up. – You’re so good with dogs. My husband won’t let me keep her. She needs a good home and I thought of you. Would you like a puppy? – Obviously you can see where this is going. She was so small and scared and gentle. Ellie, not my neighbor. Still, I managed to go home without her. My uncertainty keeping me momentarily in check. I’ll think about it, I said nonchalantly.

By the following afternoon she was exploring a new home, and yes it was mine.

 

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Forgive me Mr. McEwan, but I usually tell people, I read a miserable little book. But then I also tell them how it changed me deeply. Three years ago, On Chesil Beach came to me much the way Ellie did, in the midst of a life transition, albeit one of a different kind. It’s funny isn’t it, how things find you. A touching book arrives in my life much the way my dogs do, unsearched for. Providence at work when I’m not paying attention.

You muddle through the miserable little details page after page just as the early days with a new dog are challenging whether they are still a puppy or all grown up.  You thought you wanted to do this, read the book or share your life with four new paws. But here you are 50 pages in, two weeks along.  Doubts creep up from behind. You don’t have to do this, you know. It’s not too late. You could get out now. Let someone else read the book. Let someone else trudge through the chewing and digging and house training. You’re not all in yet…or are you? A beautiful phrase catches you. The little one flies to your side after a brief absence reminding you that you are already loved and deeply missed. Of course the reminder may come with jumping that nearly knocks you over. (I have big dogs! Why don’t the small ones ever find me?)

You have reached a turning point. The moment of no looking back. You’ve read this far. You might as well continue on if only to find out what happens. You realize that you missed her too. She chews mostly on her own toys which have taken over the living area and she has left your shoes alone for two whole hours. That’s something! It’s awfully cute the way she tries to curl up in a basket near wherever you happen to be. And after all, you’ve finally settled on the perfect name after trying out so many. Now, you’ve reached the edges of true unadulterated commitment. Are you in trouble? Perhaps. You’ve come this far. You may as well finish what you’ve started…On Chesil Beach…Ellie is my girl now.

So, you keep on. You grumble through the aggravating plot twists that you’re powerless to control. You can only read along and see what the author will do. You can only let the little one into your life and your heart not knowing how things will go.. One day each will end. The book will reach its final page whether I approve of the outcome or not. The gift of time with my sweet friend will not last forever.

Word by word…I continued to read on… Day by day…I opened my heart to Ellie. Then all at once in a single page at the very end of the book, McEwan turned the entire story into a parable. All of the miserable little details came round in one magical instant. Tears sprang to my eyes. It rang through me as clearly as a tolling bell!

The course of a life can change because one person does nothing…

Nothing!

Ellie came to me when my heart was bare with sorrow. I wasn’t sure if I was ready so soon. But there she was placed before me. Her story and her little eyes sang to me a song of hope and healing. I’ll not forget that first night and her distress. Ellie must have been missing the only world she had ever known, the soft comfort of mother, and her brothers and sisters to romp and roll with. I reached down and gathered her up and cuddled her next to me. Tiny (hard to believe Ellie at her sturdy 100 pounds was ever tiny) and scared, she pulled in close and fell fast asleep.  She slept all night long close to my heart. Ellie was home. She knew it right then, even if it took me a while to catch on. Dogs are always a bit smarter than we are.

Perhaps the book found me in a similar way when I was uncertain of so much. The story knew what I was ready to hear better than I knew myself. The layers unfolded as it swung back and forth from Edward’s private thoughts to those of Florence.  Although there was something sweet between the couple they never quite managed to open up to one another and fill in the gaps. What could have been a beautiful moment at the beginning of a lifetime together, turned into a terrible misunderstanding instead, leading to a hurried and painful ending. The young man and young woman were both paralyzed by fear and self doubt. Time and again there was a chance to say Something. Neither did. With each passing day it became easier to keep on doing nothing and let the tragic moment dig deeper within their own hearts leaving little room for hope. Nothing.  They didn’t do Something. They didn’t do Something wrong.

Everything fell apart because they did absolutely Nothing at all. The Nothingness filled the space between them leaving room for nothing else. Just nothing.

In life of course there are lots of times when nothing is exactly the right thing to do. One of the many pleasant surprises I’ve had since writing on WordPress is that I have in fact become Ellie! At first it made me giggle. It’s a natural mistake. My site is named Ellie. I must be Ellie. And so I have become. I rather like being Ellie to tell the truth. She has a powerful voice because she knows what she wants – me, all to herself…and cookies – the world’s most perfect food.  She is comfortable with all people at all times. However, if another dog comes near me she will shake the rafters with her thunderous note – That’s too close!! She never hurts a fly but if you don’t see it coming you could easily find yourself wearing your iced tea rather than sipping it. There are no misunderstandings with Ellie. No needless suffering. Life and relationships, even doggy ones, are clear.

Ellie is good for my writing too. Even now she lays at my feet keeping the other dogs from stopping me in mid sentence. Go ahead and write…I’ve got this. Thanks girl.

So here on WordPress, I’ve done nothing. Until now I’ve done nothing at all to dissuade people from thinking my name is Ellie. No harm done. And perhaps I’ve grown a bit in the meantime.  Sleek fur, perky ears, a nose full of dirt? My oh my how I’ve changed!

How often though in life do we sit back and do nothing when something would be better and far kinder? Fear keeps us quiet. Self doubt holds us back. Life is messy. What we think we see or hear or know to be true is never the whole story. We misconnect a great deal. Wait – stop – maybe – one word, one gesture, could stop something before it causes harm, could help someone to believe in themselves, could open the door to a lifetime of love. One word could make all the difference.

Ellie came to me when my heart was grieving and unsure. On Chesil Beach came to me when my life was hurting in other ways. I could have let fear stop me from letting Ellie into my heart. I could have let doubt about the direction of the book stop me from reading. In each case I could have done Nothing. And if I had, everything would be different. I would have missed the gift of my sweet Ellie girl. I would have missed the treasure of a miserable wonderful little book.

 

In one small moment similar to so many others, I chose to do something. I chose to open myself to the beauty right in front of me and learn a bit more about the woman I’d like to be. I am still afraid. I am still plagued with doubt now and then. I will probably always have both of those with me in some form. But now when I face them once again I ask myself…

Will I be the one who does nothing?

One day if I have the pleasure of meeting Mr McEwan I will smile and perhaps share this story with him.  I’ll ask him to please sign my miserable wonderful little book.  my name is suzanne…but could you please make it out to Ellie…

Nothing really…

What have you done today?

Nothing really

The day that wasn’t …

Well…


 I began with coffee in my favorite cup (the one you gave me) in the dark of the morning kitchen. The glow of a lamp while reading the words of one fairly gone from this world.

 I sent off some thoughts to here and to there. Most of them, probably delivered but unreturned. Except one who gracefully wishes me well even though I know she’d like to be in her own morning kitchen with her own cuppa. 

Here comes the day with music and sharing… laughter and sadness. My story of yellow.  I should really write that down. 

 I felt the threat of the thunder deep in my heart as my friends gathered closer up under my feet.  Safe from their fears of the crack in the sky. 


Simple food. Simple day. 

The gentle hum of football in the background. 

I walked in the forest still dripping with rain. Magically quietly clearing my cobwebs away.  Shiny leaves and tiny stirrings.  No one but me.  And my furry friends recovered from fear.  And the smallest toads crossing our path.  Hurry now.  Move fast.  


 I prayed. 

I cleaned and I froofed at this and at that. I even fed Fred the small tiny cat.

 I wandered my thoughts and wrote some of them down. The day that was yesterday. Trees that break down. 

 So many good writers with such grand things to say. I cried as I wondered why anyone would take time to care what’s in my heart. 

Just imagine – Steinbeck and Alcott and Miss Emily D writing and writing with no one to see. No social media. No immediacy. Would even they be overwhelmed and overlooked in an age such as this. But on they kept.  so I shall as well. Never to be them.  Only to be me.

At times I felt large enough. Other times small. 


A cookie. Another. And another…too many?  It’s all good.

I thanked God for the soft gray skies and a belly of rain. My lake will be filled! My fish will be happy! My morning glories will bloom! 

 Not mine. None of it mine. All His.

Whir of the fan. Soap bubbles at dusk.  Soon I’ll have pjs and pillows… and that’ll be grand.

 A word from afar.  A question from you.  my sweet sister.  And this my reply.  

What have I done today?  

Nothing really. 


a heart full of…

I’m tender
I’m small
hardly anything at all
but a heart full of…


I’m quiet
I’m soft
hardly anything at all
but a heart full of..

I rise from the darkness
the invisible place
with hardly anything at all
but a heart full of…


will you slow your quick pace
will you see my gift
my hardly anything at all
but a heart full of…

or will you rush
will you flee
from hardly anything at all
but a heart full of…


my gentle soul stills
your hurry your strong
bring hardly anything at all
but a heart full of…

You find me
I smile
hardly anything at all
but a heart full of…



Jump in!

August barrels past me in a sideways rush of steam and heat.  I’m convinced that it’s flown in on the backs of mosquitos, at least in East Texas.  Early mornings are so humid that you wish it would give up and rain.  By noon it’s so dry the slightest air movement kicks up a cloud of dust to rival an old Saturday western double feature.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to sit serenely in a frosty theatre at this time of year.  If you even make it to the end of the day then it’s just plain hotter than hot.  Many counties have enacted burn bans by now.  Their signs flank the roadsides where one county gives way to the next.   Burn ban – they remind  gently.  What they mean is – Absolutely Positively No Fire!


In 8 B.C. August got its name from Augustus Caesar.  I won’t pretend to know much about him, only that he graciously gave his name to this month and he is not the Caesar from Shakespeare’s tragedy.  That would be Julius from last month.  I stopped myself just now from calling it “this awful august”. Clearly it is not my favorite month of the year.  A melancholy settles in on me about now.  Ellie feels it too I think.  Her mild grumpiness reaches a peak in the dog days of summer.  The other dogs keep a healthy and respectful distance most of the time, except Huckleberry who can get by with almost anything.  Ellie is even known to skip walks in favor of a cool soft spot on the sofa.  Can’t say that I blame her.  Cool inside nap?  Hot outside walk?  She always has been a smart dog.  


Why the melancholy? 

Could it be the snakes?  No, I see more snakes in April than August. In spring they seek the warmth of the sun as much as I do. In August they welcome the cooler forest shade well hidden under the leaf litter. Our paths don’t cross so much this time of year for which I’m grateful. I have no wish to share a chit chat over an iced tea with them. Jack j juice box however, would probably love to have a snake friend. He has an uncanny way of looking for things that others try to avoid.


Could it be the heat? I don’t mind the heat all that much though.  With it comes a built in excuse for so many things.  Berry blue sno cones.  Dashing through sprinklers.  Slow meditative swinging in the shade.  That cool inside nap.  Waking early and catching the sunrise.  All things that I love.

Could it be that back to school days are fast approaching?  Remember the countdown of those final days of summer.  But, I’m long past all that.  And anyway, I liked school.  To this very day I’m crazy about new school supplies!  Empty spiral notebooks in my favorite colors.  Fresh pencils sharpened to a fine point.  The unparalleled joy of a new box of crayons.  Yep, I totally love school supplies.  Dobby likes them too.  They make nice chew toys.  He feels strongly about the benefits of shredded paper strewn about the room just so.  


Could it be that I miss putting together a new fall wardrobe?  That’s definitely not it!  I grew up wearing a school uniform. I still shy away from plaid skirts, oxford shoes and knee socks.  It’s hard to get excited about buying new clothes when they are exactly like the ones you wore last year and exactly like everyone else’s.  I didn’t realize it at the time but there’s a real freedom in wearing a uniform.  You put far more effort into who you are than into what you wear.  Plus…I don’t like shopping.  Bo would probably adore shopping.  He would overfill his cart with cheetos and bacon treats.  And he would nudge himself up under every free hand in the store.  Go ahead, you know you want to pet me.  

It seems there are an awful lot of good things hidden in August…


There’s nothing quite so wonderful as sitting still on a hot afternoon and reading until your heart is content.  I’ve been thinking of reading Harry Potter from start to finish…again.  August may be the perfect time to begin such an undertaking.  Rain showers of all shapes are a refreshing surprise. It’s lovely to walk beneath the trees in a light summer rain.  Cicadas hum loudly overhead and make grand company as you walk the woods.  Toads who find themselves trapped in a backyard water offering hop gratefully away after being rescued by a scoop of the hand.  Huckleberry snuggles up next to me as I write.  You’ve never seen such a happy furry friend.  He has good reasons though.  I’m pretty sure he just wants to be close enough to get first dibs on any cheese I might be snacking on.  

I’m sure there are a dozen reasons to feel melancholy in August or any other month for that matter.  None of them can hold you captive without your permission.  There is only one month filled to the brim with 31 long hot lazy August days.  I have 27 left. I think I’ll make the best of them and jump right in with all four paws just like Sweet Sonya Sue! 

Without the words 5 and Final

On my daily walk I often see a single feather abandoned by its owner.  Some are more captivating than others. I am surprised at times by their odd placements.  They all have one thing in common though.  “Hope is the thing with feathers…” springs instantly to my mind when I see one.  I smile inwardly.  I stop long enough to take a photograph.  Maybe I gather it up and take it home with me to adorn my  kitchen windowsill.  A graceful reminder.


For months I have known that one day the timing would be just right and I would post about this.  But it has turned out far different than I planned.  I imagined it as one feather in one photo with one stanza of poetry by one Emily Dickinson. One.

But recently feathers began appearing more often than usual.  And they were in such amazing places!  Agitation set in.  Faced with so many images, how would I ever narrow it to only one? I considered posting them together.  That would be too much.  I feared their individual beauty would be lost and none of them would stand out.  That wouldn’t do at all.

Since Bobolicious had made such a spectacle of himself I decided that his photos should definitely go first.  It’s always good to begin with a bit of good cheer.  Dobbs was included in this group for obvious reasons.  Mostly because he stopped long enough to notice the feather.  No matter how exuberant he can be, Dobby is far too short to pull off a Bo jumping type move.  He soon lost interest and wandered up the trail in pursuit of something more entertaining and closer to the ground.

I received a nice compliment and have fielded a few questions about this particular feather, the Bo feather.  How ever did you manage that?  Did you toss the feather into the air photographing it as it floated to the ground?  That sounds rather peaceful and manageable, now doesn’t it? Here’s the thing.  My real life in action goes something like this…  The very second that four medium to large dogs (because let’s not forget my furry constant companions) catch sight of me throwing Anything into the air, Everything would go south.  And quickly.  Including and especially Me! There would be no photos.  No feather.  No grand moment in time.  There would be only me mangled and bruised on the forest floor under a massive pile of dogs hoping for something yummy.  Something like…I don’t know… bacon treats maybe.  So yeah.  The first Without the words definitely did not occur by my gently tossing a feather and capturing beautiful photos as it descended gracefully to earth.  Not happening.

For now I’ll leave it as a beautiful mystery.  However, I will share with you that the photographs I post are my own and they’re quite real.  Each one is what I see and how I see it when I see it.  No computer enhancements and such.  In fact, I’m lousy at that and have no interest in becoming unlousy at it.  In a couple of the suspended pictures I even surprised myself.  It looks as though some enormous dinosaur of a bird dropped a feather into my very own woods on a random Tuesday.  How did that happpen? And what’s flying around up there that might want to eat me?! All about perspective I suppose.

Ok, I had narrowed down the photos to the first group not really knowing what I would do with the rest.  Take care of today and let tomorrow take care of itself, as I always say.  So… Since I was quoting an actual poem written by an actual person I thought it best to double check myself on the actual words.  And, that’s when I was gloriously reminded that there are two other stanzas to the poem.  I love the first stanza.  I love it so much that I usually forget that there are two others.  Even when I am reminded that they exist I breeze over them absentmindedly wondering – why didn’t she stop after the first one.  I mean it’s perfect.  Nevertheless, Agitation turned to inspiration! I was off and running with a series! A series? Ugh.  I shy away from posting too often.

I grew a great deal this week.  Sharing each morning gave me a joy I wasn’t expecting.  Readers will read  when they want to I learned. I needn’t worry about that. Write when the words come.  Publish when it feels right to you.  Leave the rest up in the air.  Divine Providence! Joyful Happenstance!  As one day gave way to the next I found myself aloft in a sky of feather images floating on a cloud of words set to paper by a woman I’ll never know, and wondering about Hope…

Hope is the thing… Emily Dickinson wrote 3 stanzas, 12 beautiful verses about hope.  She didn’t call it Hope. But then she didn’t title any of her poems.  She simply numbered them. This is number 254.   I wonder why she wrote them.  I wonder how it came to her.  Hopeless days seem so long and bleak.  Was it one of those times  for her? Was she searching for something to pull her through an unnamed sadness? Did she struggle to gather the words one by one out of a dark night by the dim light of a candle or a gas lamp?  Or… Did she watch a sunrise as the first birdsong of the morning floated through an open window? And there were the seeds of Hope full and rounded with promise.  Was every word an easily unwrapped gift to her soul on that day?

There are moments in life that are heavy.  My steps are slow and unsure.  You know the ones.  Your shoes feel laden with stones and your vision is clouded over.  No matter how much good is right in front of me, I’m just unable to see it.  I don’t really know what to do with myself in moments like that. I muddle through.

I’ve been writing on wordpress for a few months now.  Most of my posts are tucked contentedly away and I don’t think about them at all.  Except one that I cannot quite shake loose.   I return to it occasionally and remind myself that it was written with heart to give hope.  Still, I have come close to pulling it several times.  So far, I haven’t.  That post has been on my mind all week long.  I hurt for the struggles of others, the ones they graciously let me see, and the ones they keep quietly to themselves.  What can I do for you? How can I help? And sometimes there isn’t anything I can do…  That’s not completely true.  I can always hold them in my thoughts and prayers.  As intangible as that sounds I believe it’s by far the best thing any of us can offer one another.  When I see with my heart the pain that others bear, my own struggles seem so small.  In those moments I feel Inadequacy and Blessing.  It is an odd combination perhaps, but there I am.

I feel inadequate to fix it.  I want so badly to fix things in this life.  But many things are fine just the way they are even if I don’t understand them.  There is something graceful about the broken.  Visible scars are earned in invisible places.  Been there.  Done that.  Have the gold plated tee shirt to prove it!  Inadequacy gives me compassion.  Blessings bring me hope.  I am humbled by my own blessings.  How many good good things are all around me! Dare I say, around all of us?


Sunrise is a universal gift to everyone everyday.  Gentle breezes on a hot summer day don’t discriminate between rich and poor. Clouds are not selective.  They hold the promise of life giving rain for young and old alike.  The tallest redwoods stretch to the heavens as a reminder that strength is earned over time.  Whether you are man or woman makes no difference. The  monarch butterfly journeys inspiring distances. It does not matter if you move slowly or fast, just as the monarch, keep flying.  Although I cannot carry a tune, the birds sing for me as much as for the one who raises the sweetest voice.  Flowers bloom for everyone to enjoy!  They never stop to ask if you are happy or sad.  They offer themselves gracefully for all alike.  My blessing often comes barreling in on four legs leaving a heap of shedded fur behind.  What does yours look like?  

That is where hope resides, in the blessings. In the daily things that we overlook or forget to see. The feather, the beloved pet, the morning glory… These tiny wonders are the homes of hope.  Sometimes they arrive as words.

I write because I don’t know how not to write.  My thoughts come clearer on paper with pencil.  I write because the tiniest thing in my day is so often the most important of all.  Maybe it’s the same for you.  I measure my thoughts and words carefully before I abandon them here leaving them for you to find and do with what you will. Perhaps in this odd collection of feathers you’ll discover a smidgen of a forgotten something that will give you wings and carry your own thoughts to a place of hope.  I hope so.

Without the words? Are you kidding?!  Miss D accomplished that far better than I have. My story has rambled up a tree, through a nest, and across a wide open sky only to sing the same tune.  Hope is a song that is Always with You.  It is as close as your own heartbeat.  Be still.  Be quiet.  Listen.   What does your song sound like?

Hope is the thing with feathers

that perches in the soul,

and sings the song without the words,

and never stops at all,

 


And sweetest in the gale is heard;

and sore must be the storm

that could abash the little bird 

that kept so many warm.



Ive heard it in the chillest land,

and on the strangest sea;

yet, never, in extremity,

it asked a crumb of me.