“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


I Awoke To A Dream: Navigate

This year draws to a close.

The morning snuck in, foggy, foggy outside, but Maggie woke me and despite a temperature maybe in the 40s, I was outside in flipflops and a t-strap gown over pajama bottoms walking this block, my  block, no one outside but me, taking pictures, saying a silent goodbye, until my toes grew cold and the goodbyes were finished. The street felt like a church, I felt I should kneel and say a prayer, place my hand on this ground and close my eyes and whisper a goodbye to the year that felt like a dream, the year I felt tossed about, so often unable to find my way, no map available, no way to find true north, no compass, no nothing.

I am plunging into the night.

I am navigating.
I have on my side only the stars.
                                                                                                       ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

And so a word chooses me in time for the new year.


–verb (used with object)
1. to move on, over, or through
2. to direct or manage (something) on its course.
3. to ascertain or plot and control the course or position of (something).
4. to pass over (something).
5. to walk or find one's way on, in, or across.
–verb (used without object)
6. to direct or manage something on its course.
7. to walk or find one's way.
8. to travel

To walk or find one's way. To chart a course.

So much we cannot control. But so much we can. Last year threw me from one emotion to another, buffeted me about, and I allowed it. This year I have a compass and I will learn to read the stars. And when thrown off course I will still know where I am.


Where I Stood

Welcoming the New Year
while remembering where I've stood this year.

In no particular order.

I stood next to the bed of a friend who lay dying, angry at the end for always coming, but angry only for me, relieved for her that it was almost done. I stood next to a friend twirling in wedding gowns, choosing the perfect one to spin her into a new chapter in her life, watching the laughter in her eyes, the flush on her cheeks. I stood in a bookstore with a magazine in my hand, a magazine in which I'd been published, and I wanted to dance like I was 9, I wanted to open it and show everyone near me and say me, me, see? I stood in my kitchen and cried from exhaustion, working on paintings for a show I dearly wanted, then I stood at that show and thought that no doubt it looked so easy to everyone there. I stood in my own shadow while Unravelling and reached for the sky, and the sky reached back. I stood every week at the veterinarian's office, cat in carrier, money in hand, a small price to pay for continued companionship. I stood in my neighborhood, in flowers dropped from trees in the spring, tiny white catawba blossoms, pink blooms from tulip trees, lavender wisteria; in the summer I stood in bare feet on fallen crepe myrtle blossoms of all colors and in the fall I stood ankle deep in golden ginkgo leaves. I stood outside dancing on a hot July 4th night and I stood outside on Christmas Eve afternoon surrounded by whirling snowflakes. I stood in green suede ballerina flats for the opening of a 2nd art show, a name tag on my shirt declaring me Artist. I stood under trees filled with owls and I stood under trees watching hawks. I stood at a school event, hand on my heart for the National Anthem, and watched those across from me refuse to stand and I felt a chill, a shiver down my spine. I stood under umbrellas through a neverending rainy autumn and I stood in the rain when umbrellas lay forgotten behind locked doors. I stood in flipflops, in shoes sewn of polka dots, in boots, in worn out Keds and tattered flats, in high heels that hurt if I wore hose, in high heels that didn't if I didn't. I stood under full moons and high noons, behind white rabbits and under Katie's blue lights, in showers and in front of mirrors and on two politically incorrect feet. I stood on my own and I leaned on friends. I stood in new places, on unfamiliar ground, and in a place called home. I stood in the beginnings of dreams and on red brick roads hot from the sun. I stood in places not of my choosing and I stood with fear, with loss, with my hands over my face hiding the tears. But I stood.

And now?
The new year comes bearing gifts.

Let us open them together and see what we will see.


Photograph, Almost Painting

Cold weather moving in again today,
with a tease of snow a little north of us.

Isn't it funny how cold has a certain look to it, and you can just see the temperature dropping? The street was deserted the afternoon of Christmas Eve, all the businesses closed earlier, the ever-wonderful Michael & I here at work, at last wrapping gifts, and I could see down the road, no cars to block my view, and was enchanted by this store window, the merchandise gone, sold, packed away, just a few things left, I could just see their shapes through the icy windows, growing less visible as the temperature continued to drop and the afternoon wore on, and when at last those teeny snowflakes began to fall, I realized the light would soon fall also and I headed out into the weather, camera in hand, for pictures.

They all look like paintings, those images, like textures and blobs of paint and mark making and drips, and it was hard to choose just one for this post, but this one speaks to me the most, the perfect color, a chair/stool, that dark line dividing the "canvas". I can just see Mother Nature scrubbing with rags and pushing her brushes across the surface, holding her breath while making a spot here or there, blending the teal with the gray, with the white, with that pale brown. I know that feeling well.

There is also something about this image that moves me closer to my "goal", if indeed that is what it is, as a photographer, that painterly feel of transparencies and textures, with absolute minimum Photoshop, although don't get me wrong, I am a Photoshop aficionado, and am willing to use however much I require to get from here to there, it being all about my vision, and me willing to throw whatever is needed into the mix.

I stood there in the snow
as it grew faster, harder, bigger
and stepped back from the window,
like that scene in Ferris Bueller,
Cameron mesmerized by Seurat's Sunday Afternoon.
When I turned around.
it was quite blizzard-like for these parts,
white everywhere.
and I felt like a child,
truly, truly


Sunday As It Really Looks

How my day really looks.

Oh, I wish I could say wonderful things about it, and really I suppose I can, that's Maggie's paw you can barely, barely see off to the far right in this image, she was so happy to be in my lap and had been for a couple of hours when I picked up my cell phone and shot this image, carefully cropping out the messiness of my house, just showing off my Santa Claus socks and kitty cat pjs, and I let her stay for another hour until I just had to actually move, which brought on the meows of loneliness or something, and it was really more than I could take, that's the way the day really looks. One side of my house has no electricity, the breaker is blown, of course on Christmas Eve, and that's with no lights on the tree, and I am out of clean clothes, finally running a 100' orange extension cord from the kitchen to the washer, a distance of maybe 8 feet, which means there is a huge tangled coil of orange in the floor, but I am grateful I had that extension cord, orange though it may be, it's hard to find white extension cords that are grounded, and also my hall light isn't working and I don't know if it has anything to do with that breaker or not, but I am hoping so, even though it's on the other side of the house - the house is oddly wired, anything is possible, but my closet light has never worked, not in 16 years, so maybe not. That's how the day really looks. And all the while I was sitting and watching tv with Maggie, I was thinking of poor Lily, here at work, knowing she needed to be fed, feeling guilty about that, feeling guilty about evicting Maggie from my lap, but like I said, after a few hours I just had to, and that's when I thought I could at last do a load of laundry, putting off the inevitable as long as I had, forgetting there were towels still in the washer that had been there all this time, full of soap, and so I said bad words quite loudly, I am sorry, but really, it was just too much, and nothing for it but to rewash them and find the cleanest clothes possible and feel lazy because I should have done this Christmas day, but I really didn't want to, which will teach me to ignore things that need to be done, and now here I am at work to find Lily's food dish empty, and that's how the day really looks. On the good side, there was a box of Cracker Jacks in my office, which lately I cannot seem to get enough of, and wouldn't it be nice if they just left out the peanuts?, does anyone really eat the peanuts?, and Lily has eaten and is in the front room, atop a pile of boxes, watching the sunshine throw shadows around outside. Just Thursday it was snowing and icy cold out there, and did I mention I got a fabulous new lens for Christmas and took pictures?, and I was really going to post one of those, maybe two, but they are pictures of cold, I will save them, and anyway, this is the way the day really looks.


A Dream of Arizona

Back to Earth we fall.
Hopefully gently.

It is over at last, this season I shouldn't be so happy to see gone, but the truth be the truth, and it was a hard autumn, and I don't even know if technically we are into winter yet, but that just illustrates the toughness of these past few months. The last of the gifts are gone - no, there is still one, I just remembered - but the craziness is gone and 2010 is visible from the front door. It's still blurry, still at a distance, but it holds promises and surprises and hopefully a better mood and begins with a blue moon; a good sign, that blue, at least for me.

I dreamed of Arizona last night - I dreamed I was back, on a trip with blogging friends; I heard my name called and turning around, I saw Soozi, an old high school friend, and off I went with her to relive old times. She was a writer, she said, and we drove to her house, the living room painted dark pink, yellow light from a lamp casting an orange circle behind it. We cried and cried to see each other again, and the dream seemed to go on forever. I think of her a lot, she is one of those images that stay in my mind without thinking, I see her standing in our high school courtyard, black top, gypsy skirt, knitted orange cap over curly, curly hair. It is a faded image, but I see it nonetheless. I don't know why I am even mentioning it, but the dream stays in my head this morning, a dream of warmth, of friendships old and new, a dream full of the Arizona sky. Perhaps in looking forward, I look back also, perhaps it is a goodbye. I have made a decision - I laugh at what a hard decision it has been - to buy a new address book, to keep the old one in a drawer, the one with Soozi's number, the one full of my past, full of numbers no longer needed or wanted, full of memories good and bad. A beginning of a new life, the past still with me, making me who I am, but behind me. Clean pages awaiting; the new year seems like a good time to begin.
this past week, i have learned that phones lose information



On the edge of downtown.
Not much snow for a lot of y'all, I know.
But here?
Oh baby.

All gone now.
i've never had a white christmas

Merry Christmas Eve

The morning of Christmas Eve appears,
bringing with it colder air.
By tonight actual cold air.

Yesterday's storms brought tornado warnings and tornadoes all around us, though none here in my town, indeed it was impossible to watch the Grinch steal Christmas, the weather interruptions finally becoming the show. Flooded roads put a stop to my last minute gift buying and I am off this morning to finish it all, through possible snow flurries, what fun that would be, I am visualizing white flakes falling about me as I hit the long road to another county for a certain something, Christmas songs on the stereo, but the weather people are truly saying it's possible and I am hoping. The wind is blowing icy already.

There are gifts yet to be wrapped, and the quietness outside bespeaks a holiday mood. The quietness will change to busyness until the early afternoon, then the stores will close and all will head home, and it will be here, this year's Christmas, at least for those of us who begin our celebrations on Christmas Eve. I have always been the holdout in my family, preferring Christmas day, but there are multiple families to be considered, and other towns to be visited, and this year I have finally reached a peace with it all. Christmas Eve is perfect. My mother has made homemade fried apricot pies (my very, very favorite, and a weakness over which I have no control), and they are waiting for me. My family is waiting, Michael will be here, Maggie is still with me, Lily will keep me company at work while I wrap the last of the gifts, and I can sleep late tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, gray skies outside warn me to hurry.
Maybe snow today.
Tonight, maybe angels in the sky.

To all of you, bless you.
You have been gifts for me all year.

Tiny, yes, but still! Snow!
the angels sing for us all


The Land of Now

In the land of now.

In which there is a cat in my lap,
not asleep, not yet, not quite yet,
but . . . yes.

In which the day dawns at last.
Wet and warm,
an almost-blue-almost-white gray sky overhead,
yellow leaves pasted to the the red brick street.

In which I read a not-quite-sober text message
sent to me in the middle of the night,
a message that makes me laugh
and fall in love all over again.

The day begins peacefully.

A squirrel perches at the foot of the hackberry tree,
a pecan his breakfast,
and for just that moment,
that piece of now gone so quickly,
the world outside was golden,
the leaves shining their light.
it cools a bit.
Gray moves back in, a cool green.
A cool yellow.

Who knew the air had so many colors?

It is so quiet out there,
this day before the day of the Eve the angels sing,
A bird singing somewhere.
Christmas is coming.

The squirrel climbs the bare wisteria branches,
and tiny lavender sparks shoot out,
invisible to those who know not where to look,
and I see the promise of lavender blossoms this spring.
all is calm, all is quiet


Chocolate, Clementines & Sugar Cookies

My tree.

I had no idea that the branches were so helter-skeltered askew until I took this image, but how fitting, how perfect, so I will let them stay. Christmas is really, really almost here and I am quite in disbelief, but having just found online the gift-that-could-not-be-found for a certain almost 13 year old girl , with next day shipping, with assurances it will be here by Christmas Eve, makes me feel lighter and much more in the mood, and just about time, I know, here I sit on the 22nd with shopping still to go and no cards sent, but the box to Michigan is off today, and truly, at last, I feel I can take a breath, and I will even admit to you that I ate 2 pieces of chocolate with my breakfast this morning, and perhaps that has made the difference.

The weather outside is anything but frightful here in my part of Texas, in the mid 60s today, but this morning's sunshine has turned to gray skies and rain is on its way, followed by a promise of cold air on Christmas Eve, into the 20s, and although I am not fond of cold weather, Christmas Eve is an exception I can make. I would even smile at a bit of snow. What has made me smile lately are clementines in the grocery store - Mary would insist on clementines when they showed up, despite the price, and cherries also, she loved cherries; sitting in Christmas traffic listening to the Temptations sing Silent Night, surrounded by Christmas lights, and a string of red taillights looking like they should be hung on a tree; the orange bow tied around a box of chocolates I received last night; surprises coming up in 2010, the first in January - I will tell you all about it then; an early Christmas gift with which I photographed the above image, be still my heart; new books awaiting me at home, friends for the cold weather ahead, a whole stack of them; pieces of art which have been appearing in my mailbox; the fact that all the Christmas cards I have received have been red or bordered in red or red-themed.

I think I will buy clementines and sugar cookies tonight.
A perfect supper
for a day
which began with chocolate.
absolutely perfect


Last Year's Christmas

Because I am too lazy today, but maybe not really too lazy, though I am still in my pj bottoms after 5 pm, I am using an old image, one from last Christmas of Katie's blue lights, but the lights are still up and I am thinking of last Christmas anyway, so I think it's okay. I have taken no pictures, my camera still asleep where I laid it a few days ago, all unposted images snug in my computer at work, but just a few moments ago the sun touched the lower branches of the hackberry tree in the front yard and I just had to share it with you - there are no leaves left, at least no green leaves; there are a few tiny tiny brown ones still hanging, and the sun lit them up like Christmas lights, and for just a minute or so it was a glimmering golden thing of beauty, and then the sun moved on; sunset can't be too far away. Yesterday the wind was up and all the leaves were dancing on the tree branches, I remember noticing that last year, but today the wind is gone and nothing is moving except the sun, we are almost to the solstice, tomorrow night is it?, and then the movement to longer days at last.

From here on the couch, I look down Mary's driveway and Charlie the cat is curled next to some azalea bushes, near the front porch, and Lyndi-Linda has tied a big red bow around the branch of the Japanese maple; it hangs in my sight over the old green lawn chairs in front of the green house, all red and green over there, all quite Christmasy with nothing more than that bow, Mary's old bow, I remember it atop a tree or two, never a Christmas tree, she just used one of the tall plants in the house, or a potted tree. I shopped yesterday and it felt odd not buying anything for her, felt strange not having anyone for whom an amaryllis was a piece of heaven, at the candy store I was drawn to the lemon peel dark chocolate thingies and the lime truffles but didn't buy any, still thinking of Mary, and I didn't look for a cat ornament or a silly card. I can't even remember what I bought her last year, don't have a clue, but I can still see the presents wrapped and scattered on the floor around the "tree", still remember going over Christmas morning and watching her unwrap things.

Night is coming on now and Charlie is beginning to blend with the darkness, his white chest still visible, but the rest of him almost gone. Like this year, almost gone, almost over, this long, long year, this year of no energy proving to be a blessing today when I recalled I still had in my Jeep a small feathery white Christmas tree, one I'd loaned to the lovely, lovely Katie last December for just one night for open house at her business, just a piece of decoration, she's laughed at me more than once for lugging all that stuff around still, but today, like I said, it proved to be a blessing, and is now sitting in a garden urn on the green table by the glass doors, no lights or anything, but I am going to light a candle or two next to it and it will be perfect.

Ben Hur is on tv, the sound is off - my usual m.o., Maggie has crawled into my lap, purring, not yet asleep and night has fallen. Charlie is hidden by the darkness, the red bow has disappeared.

Christmas creeps in on little cat paws


Dear Santa - Revised and Updated 9:20 PM After Reading the Purple Lace Panties Comment

Fill in the blanks.

Naughty or nice,
what can Santa bring that will make you feel like a child again?

Inspired by Sheila, who made me laugh,
posted a funny comment,
set my priorities straight without even meaning to;
just trying to cheer me up,
she having read the sad heartbreak of a tale
originally posted here.
All true,
all sad,
all too much, really.
So down came that post,
like a stocking filled with too much coal,
falling to the floor on Christmas morning.

Be a child again.
What would it take?
Be selfish,
be silly.
Don't say world peace.
You are 7. Maybe 10.
You are not enlightened.
You are out for you.
One thing, maybe two.

I'll go first.
Let me close my eyes a moment
and snuggle into my 9 year old brain.
Okay . . . she would want a Tressy doll.
I, however, want a scooter.
A moped.
Just for fun.
Just to bop around.
A white one.

And you?
Remember, something fun.
I want to hear you laugh like a child
when you find it under the tree
Christmas morning.

Thank you Sheila.
You and your purple lace panties.
thank you!


A Little Christmas Scat

Still no tree, still no presents purchased.
Well, one more, so that makes two.
No cards made or bought or sent.
They will all be late.

And you know, it's okay.
Finally, I feel okay about it all.
No idea where that okayness came from,
but here it is and I'll take it.

That almost done I talked about the other day had an accent on the almost, but I didn't know it at the time, and just now I found myself deleting the word talked, typing wrote about in its place, then deleting that and re-typing talked because it feels like I'm talking - feels also like you're listening, thank you very much, thank you more than you know because when I started this post I felt empty of words, comparing myself in my head to a new blog I just found, hearing that person's cadence, feeling awkward with my own, that third line stopping me over and over until I finally just left it alone, left it the way I'd first typed it, and moved on, the moving on being the key, and right now, right at this very moment - right now exactly - I finally, finally get it about journaling, thank you, Stephanie - I finally get it about writing by hand and just keep writing, don't go back, just keep moving. An epiphany, and not the Christmas kind, but what perfect timing, it being about recognition and gifts; once I was in Mexico City in early January and was showered by small gifts and candy during a Three Kings Day festival way off the tourist trail, and later that night found myself in a voodoo club, all dark Afro-Cuban jazz and not until this very moment did I realize - I swear, exactly right now! - but there was a tree in the very middle of the dance floor, exactly like I want a tree in my studio, no Christmas lights or fairy lights on its branches, but spider-web thin tracings of paint that shimmered and glowed under a black light, each branch, each tiny piece of bark, all painted in just tiny, tiny swaying lines, and that music in the background, the swaying of our bodies echoing those lines as we danced around the tree. An image always in my head, I see it all the time, that tree, but until typing out the words I never saw its influence, and I am almost speechless and I think I should go back and find another image to illustrate this post and there. I did.

Much more the thing.
and all that jazz


Climb, Reach, Breeeeaathe

They're only words.

Seemingly out of reach, but surprisingly not.
You just have to learn to climb trees
and when the branches get this thin,
and you know they won't support you,
you gotta reach.
It may be a long stretch,
you may need to hold it,
breathe it into it.
The yoga of living.
And when you get there,
what do they tell you?

hold close
tell the truth

It has been a year of unfurling.
2010 nears, a new word to be chosen.
This word turns out to be important.
Who'd'a thought it?
The dictionary beckons,
or books of poetry.
The New Year's word.
Waiting for me to know it when I see it.

And you?
Have you chosen?
What will your word summon for the year?
What power will you give yourself?
Strength? Forgiveness?
Baby steps or giant strides?

I am climbing a tree
and building a nest.

The word is in that tree,
right there,
and so.
I am off.
I'll let you know when I find it.
is it a verb this year, or a noun?


Almost There: I Take a Breath

The boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes
and boxes
of Christmas cards have been delivered.

The pile of paperwork waiting to be filed
can now be filed.
All the paperwork of the last 10 days
still lurks around my desk
in other piles,
but also ready to be filed.

A few odds and ends left to catch up.

There will be phone calls for last minute gifts -
there always are -
last minute forgetfullnesses to be corrected.
But the quietness that settles in at this time of year
has arrived.
I will not hurry to work on jobs not due until after Christmas,
indeed not due until spring semester begins.
I will take my time.

With this sudden done!
comes the exhaustion I have been fighting all fall;
I slept until almost 10 this morning,
rushing to get to work
though I knew it made little difference.
There are a few things still to finish,
but just a few.

This is the first year I can remember
not having any Christmas gifts bought or made,
the first year I can remember
not having yet sent out Christmas cards,
seriously thinking I may send New Year's cards instead.

My muscles have that twitchiness of too much work
suddenly over,
not knowing what to do with stillness.
I couldn't sleep last night,
could not sleep,
so gave up and dealt with laundry,
changed the sheets on the bed,
watched Craig Ferguson,
read blogs and played Tripeaks
until at last I could relax.
Hence the being late this morning.

No Christmas tree at the house,
the Emma Tree here at work
still displaying burnt out bulbs.
I have no ideas for presents,
I am idea'd out, empty,
and there is a package to go to upstate Michigan
still woefully almost-empty.

But this quiet time is here,
this actually almost-sad time,
a melancholy that settles in when we finish for the season.
This year a melancholy over the already here melancholy.
A day or two of leaving on time
or even early
will help put me in the shopping mood,
will find me putting up a tree,
however small.
Wrapping paper will begin to appeal to me again.

Cold today, and gray.
We move towards the end of shorter days.


Into the Night

We were steppin' out . . .

I loved this song, loved it.
"You . . . you dress in pink & blue just like a child,
and in a yellow taxi turn to me & smile . . ."
What great lyrics. Fabulous.
I remember nighttime drives to Dallas,
steppin' out,
this tape in the car stereo,
and I am smiling
kind of dancing around my office just to hear it again.

We were stepping out Saturday night, to a party in a big house, and these are the lovely, lovely Katie's legs anticipating a great time. She and the new hubby in one car, Sheila with me in another, off into the night, onto dark Texas country roads, me reassuring Sheila that I was a great navigator, and I mostly was, Sheila not being so and missing the turn from the highway, but she being a great driver nonetheless, not to mention her car having heated seats, and turning right around in the middle of said highway, no other cars nearby, and eventually we were there - did I mention how dark it was? - house far, far off the road, not a peep of a window showing, no light indicating the dirt-road-driveway-longer-than-my-street, just darkness and another car parking behind us, driver whispering is this the right place?, Katie waiting with a flashlight, and finally, through mud and more darkness, the house appeared and then we really were there and so were lots of other people, even folks I knew, and it was a party after all.

We talked about men's shirts (pocket or no pocket?), George Foreman, Cuban music, flooded basements, red caresses, handmade lace, cookies, being vegetarian, how much we didn't like Coldplay, dancing, Houston, couches, art or the lack thereof, being self-sustaining in a financial kind of way, Rolexes, marriage, divorce, barbecue, mingling vs. not mingling, the time the bullet came through the upstairs bedroom window and lodged in the bed's headboard - even all this way out in the country, compasses, toenail polish, Jeep Wranglers, Christmas trees, black beads, the time when the baby was still a baby, how we thought she'd be taller.

On the way home,
it was the Jack-in-the-Box drive through
for a fajita pita.

I navigated by the Christmas lights on houses.
we were steppin out . . .


A Chair Inside the Door

This is not my couch, but let's pretend.
It's a bit of loveliness from Winnie & Tulula's
it looks like comfort.
I wanted wings for this year.
This coming year I think I need a new nest,
even if it's in the same spot.

I keep dropping dishes and breaking them and surely, I think, that means something, me who reads something into everything, surely it is a sign - if only I knew the language I would know what it is telling me, but I don't and the dishes keep breaking, and I toss the pieces out, not wanting the memories of broken things cluttering up my nest, keep thinking of Chocolat, poor Anouk breaking the urn holding her grandmother's ashes, Vienne finally tossing them into the North wind, finding freedom. What should I toss, I wonder, how to feather this nest to make it feel new, so much I love here, so much history, so few new things wanted, but feeling changes in whatever wind blows by, knowing I need to do more than rearrange the furniture, though, of course, that is my first move, often made throughout the year, nothing new there. Do I start with the bedroom closet, saying goodbye at last to clothes that no longer fit me, though I have lost some weight this last month, or with the silverware drawer, which holds no silver? January always begins with the purge of magazines, but I have purchased less this year, and tossed most already, down to mostly the few I cannot let go, but the house is a mess, cluttered beyond its usual messiness, - we will soon be slowed down at work; I can catch my breath, find some energy, clean both home and business, and I feel antsy to get there, to begin. But after the cleaning, then what? I know, I should wait until cleaning has actually been accomplished, but I can't help looking forward to inventing more studio space, to pushing forward with other ideas I have dancing around in my head.

I will start with more flowers, just the $3.00 bouquets from the grocery store until the neighborhood starts to blossom again. This morning that seems far away, fog laying on the brick streets, bare branches my view now. Wet leaves still driving me crazy, tracked into the house no matter what measures I try to stop them - I told a friend yesterday that yes, we take off our shoes asap inside the front door, but when you are as old as I am, you cannot get that left boot off without hopping to a chair, and leaves fall off during that hop.

So. A chair inside the door.
See how easy that was?
Well, the idea was easy.
It will require logistical miracles to accomplish,
but I like that challenge.


Sheila Shares a Story

I am cheating today.

An image from this summer, a piece still unsold.
This flower pushing its way through the hard ground to bloom.
To blossom.

I am letting my friend Sheila tell the story.
She being the flower and all, I'm thinking,
though we hadn't yet met when the flower pushed through.

I think you'll like her post.
She's a newbie blogger;
check it out and see what you think.
Maybe let her know.

Click the link above to find her tale.
muchas gracias


Silent Night

A change in today's post, the brightly colored images deleted for now, a move into a white Christmas instead, me home from Emma's school Christmas concert, always a bit of a push into the Christmas feel of things, but home to find Maggie not well - not in pain, but not well, right now hiding/sitting in a corner of the bedroom behind a white bench, but no, as as I type that she moves to a spot under the table by my bed. And so the bright images are gone, I need softness tonight, and here she is - jumping onto the bed with me, perhaps calmed by this very soft tapping of the keyboard, curling against me in a slow, slow motion, not purring, not purring at all, just needing to be next to me; this morning I was not as late as usual and when the sun angled in through the window and across the bed, I curled next to her, spooning, and it was the best, she was purring then, the sun another layer of warmth, and I in a not-hurried morning mood, the silence of the morning embracing us, that and the sound of the heater, which is really just part of the winter silence.

I think it will be a white Christmas for me these last 2 weeks or so. I have images and words enough, I think, and if not, well, then, I will make more. I feel the need for softness this year, perhaps that has been the problem all along. I just need a nest, and as I told Graciel, one candle, and I will be fine.

The night sky, some stars and a candle.
Maybe an angel wing or two.
a slow quiet song


I Forgot to Ask Her Name

Things move around, life puts you in places you might not otherwise be and I think of wings a lot this time of year, of angels flying out of a cold nighttime sky, of silence and stars and candlelight, but I never think of myself as an angel, not even close, no wings on my back, and not even in a good mood much the last few weeks, but I admit to a softness in my heart that brings me to tears at unexpected beauty, at shadows searching for warmth as winter closes in, I admit to all that, and maybe that counts for something, or maybe the Universe or God or maybe even busy angels just need someone else to be somewhere at a certain time and maybe they pick you or me, knowing our true hearts as they do, knowing we'll know what to do.

This busy hard time of year sent me to the vet with Maggie yesterday, she just needing her daily fluids, nothing wrong, the ever-wonderful Michael just needing to be here, unable to leave, photographs needing to be delivered, so Maggie and I were off to the vet's together, she oddly quiet and calm, Christmas music on the stereo, so familiar to last fall's visits, gray skies overhead, rain threatening. As we made our last turn, a white SUV coming from the opposite direction turned onto the road before us, a woman driving, and I knew in my heart she also was headed for the vet's and something was wrong, I could feel it, I could sense her tightness, her hurry; as we parked she was fast out of her seat, around to the passenger side, grabbing a cat carrier and heading inside; my heart sank for her as I did exactly the same in a not-hurried way, walking around to the passenger side of the Jeep and picking up Maggie's carrier. Inside they were waiting for her and she handed them the carrier, then sank onto a red bench, turning inward - I could see it - turning small, as they hurried off to the back, she not even watching, looking at the floor, at the coffee table stacked with cat and dog magazines and old issues of Good Housekeeping, looking nowhere really but deep in her heart. I gave them Maggie, and though there was no one else in the waiting room, plenty of empty seats, I sat next to her. Soon an assistant was out, reassuring the woman, gathering more answers to more questions, then off again, and the woman became even tighter, fighting tears, and I, who had listened to the questions and answers, and realized the cat was diabetic, had had a bad reaction to his usual insulin shot, said to her I don't know you but you look like you need a hug and yes, she nodded, she did, and so we did, and we talked and we both cried a bit, and I asked her cat's name - Pepper, she said, and she told me where she lived - several miles away in a small community - and how she had flown through the streets to get there, and I remembered the time I, too, had done that very same thing, with Stella, the cat before Maggie, flown 30 miles on a Saturday evening in an old Nissan to get to the emergency vet's, how Stella had not come home with me, I was too late, how Maggie was born that very day; I thought all those things in the twinkle of a moment, and we talked some more and soon Maggie was ready to go home, and before I left, I gave the woman another hug, this stranger who said I have no children, he is like my child, and I knew, I knew, but I felt Pepper was going home with her, felt that he would be okay yesterday, felt that from things said by the assistant, and I hope I am right, that she didn't go home alone. I will ask Saturday when I take Maggie again.

When I talked to my mother later,
I asked her to include Pepper in her prayers,
and also the woman,
whose name I did not get.


December Views 5: I Thought I'd been There Before

But I hadn't.
I would have remembered.

The street was full of red leaves this morning, calling to mind rose petals strewn across a honeymoon bed, or Beth's bedroom, after her death in Little Women, or stairs in made-for-tv romance movies right after she meets he. They said to me drive, truly they did, in a language I understand only for a moment, could read for just a second before the leaves were scattered by the wind of my car. So drive I did, perhaps looking for Christmas but really not too much, driving through the sun across the flat dry land of a Texas just yesterday dancing beneath tiny snowflakes. With no particular place to go, but remembering a place Margo had talked about, about 35 miles up the road, thinking I'd been there, thinking I'd just - oh, I don't know, not thinking anything, just driving and paying attention to speed limits in small towns and soon I was there, and oh! One step in the door and I was asking permission to take pictures, and take pictures I did. Tons of pictures. Tons. I wanted everything, I wanted to move in, I wanted to sit down and cry from sheer girly Christmas-lives-here-and-probably-the-Easter-Bunny-too, fairy lights everywhere happiness. How has it been here all this time and me not know, I wondered, but still not caring, just happy, happy, happy - I couldn't even begin to think of what to buy. I was just running around taking pictures, putting out so much fizzzz and energy at one point that a customer just had to see what I was looking at.

Oh my. Oh me.

Insert sighs right here.

Oh, I am.

The place?
Athens, Texas.


December Views 4: Oranges, Artwalk, Snow Fluffies

Snow fluffies today.
That's what the weather guy called them.
Tonight, the downtown Artwalk,
despite the 20 something temperature.
On the stereo, Eileen Ivers An Nollaig.
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.


December Truth 1: Craziness. A Momentary Break from December Views. Darlene will Understand.

A small break from December Views (you knew I couldn't last too long, didn't you?), me being a word girl, me walking through the day gathering up the truths as I see them. At work there are white boxes with green labels, stacked and waiting for Christmas cards to be printed, the envelopes - hand counted by yours truly - already tucked inside, with one extra per box; names are on the labels. There are mounds of completed work orders begging to be filed, but on my desk are more important Zip Lock bags filled with not-yet-started work orders + camera cards + special instructions – this mom wants no part of the Christmas background showing, can we crop to here?, this dad wants his name on his daughter’s portrait package, his ex-wife will not give him his order if they are accidentally sent home to her, there are inexplicable phone calls to answer – the mother who insists she has lost her portraits and can she order more, ignoring my explanation that she has yet to receive them, they’ve not been delivered; she wants to argue that point, she’s seen them, she tells me, and she’s lost them and she needs more. Looking at the pictures in question – they are, after all, still there, right in front of me, I finally give up and tell her yes, I’ll print more but she’ll have to pay again, and fine, fine, she says, fine. There are voice mails and answering machine messages that are indecipherable, and I am sorry for all the people whom I don’t call back but I can’t hear you, or understand you, and sometimes I want to change the message on the machine to say we’re Texans, please talk more slowly so I can understand you. There are sports jobs with forms the parents were to’ve filled out but didn’t, so their sons and daughters will receive trading cards with no information on them and I hope their names are spelled right, I have nothing against which to check those spellings. There are calendars showing which schools close for Christmas break when, and there are late orders handed in daily to be added to jobs already started. Everyone needs everything now. There are checks returned for insufficient funds, there are credit cards refused, but everyone wants their pictures before school lets out and it is a constant juggling act of mind, pen & paper to keep track of who’s really paid and who hasn’t yet, and really, they all will, it’s rare that they don’t, and we, too, want those pictures delivered in time, these are pictures of little kids, after all, and it’s Christmas, and we do what we can to get everything where it needs to be when it needs to be. And if something happens, like this week’s delay in receiving chemistry with which to actually print the pictures, we run even harder to stay caught up, even though poor Michael has a cold he brought home for his birthday. But the day finally, finally comes to an end and we are out the doors into the darkness, telling Lily good night.

Tonight, there was a Christmas parade in motion when I left work, cold air making me hurry, hurry, the parade route had changed and now marched by within a block of our business; I could walk to it in a minute, but not knowing that I became snarled in traffic - I apparently not being the only one not knowing this – finding a place to turn around, my usual route home blocked off, the cold air like I said making me impatient although there was a moment, but only one, when I watched high school kids marching by as I maneuvered the Jeep inch by inch, and I thought about just parking and watching from that empty vantage point, but by then I’d made the turn and dialed the ever-wonderful Michael to warn him away, and there were cars everywhere and the moment was gone. And it was cold. 4 blocks later my next turn was blocked by a fire truck, though no fire to be seen, I hope everything was okay, and another 6 or 8 blocks and I was home to Maggie and a warm house and blessed silence and there it is, that is the beginning of my December Truths. That is how things come to be.

December Truth #1 - It will just be crazy.
Accept it and fall into the craziness.
Things will be easier.
santa claus is coming to town & he's riding a fire truck

December Views 3: Paperwhites & Pecans

Paperwhites, look down, early morning white.
Pecan tree, look up,
fingers shading your eyes
against the glare of the December sky.
Blue now, and cold.
Christmas parade tonight
and if I were 12, yes, yes.
But this cold?
My house beckons,
with warmth and a purring cat.


December Views 2: Cute Gloves + Stars

I am a wordy girl.
So there will be just a few
as I try these December views.
There are no rules.
Much cooler air today, a freeze possible tonight.
Feels a bit more Christmasy,
or at least December-y.
Cute gloves.
Stars on the skull.
That antique green door.
A new heater.
So heat.
Lovely heat.
Just in time.
fabulous heat


December Views 1: Creating

I'm sure I won't make it all the way through December
with nary a word,
but I'll start with these few.
And a bad photo.