…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! 



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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!