“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


Yesterday's Rain - Gone

Rain yesterday, that dreary drizzly kind-of-cold-staying-in-the-40s all day kind of rain, you don't really need an umbrella, just work your almost wet way through the drops if they're dropping, the perfect day for continuing to have the blues, a day that kept me thinking if spring would just get here things would feel better, and I just pushed through it, worked late, crying at everything and nothing as I packaged photos, worrying about the cat at home, what would she do because I worked so late?, only to find when I pulled into the dark driveway that she'd snuck outside sometime during the afternoon and was perfectly fine, even happy to be out in the out. A lesson I should learn, but it had been a long week, and I wanted nothing but to collapse on the couch and I did and sleep found me somewhere in the middle of watching The Chronicles of Narnia, thinking I could make those winter trees, designing new photo studio ideas in my head.

This morning, a weekend alone awaits me, and sunshine greets me from one window and another, and things feel possible. I remember all the things I've been forgetting, and feel as if I could possibly move, feel as if I could get something done if the phone doesn't ring, as much as I love whoever might be on the other end. My muscles ache and are tight from answering people and the hat above reminds me of my uncle who liked to be alone, who lived in a little mobile home with a cat and that was all he needed, that and an expensive cowboy hat, white straw for casual wear.

Saturday and the weekend is mine and there is much to catch up on, I won't get it all done, but I feel rested and Maggie seems fine, sleeping in my lap, and alone time is my gift, that and the everywhere sunshine and warming air, a rumor of high 50s, maybe even 60 degrees teasing me, even warmer tomorrow. There are squirrels in the yard and birds in the air and the music in my house is blessed silence, and though I've already had one English muffin, another calls to me, and if there is time, I have a recipe for baked apples in phyllo dough - I have no idea if that is spelled right and I am too lazy to check - and perhaps tomorrow some homemade soup. It all feels possible.


I Am

I am: shy, shy, shy

I think: in color

I know:
i am too smart for my good :)

I want:
my own home & +1 reading sunglasses

I have: cold toes this morning

I dislike: hypocrisy & hominy

I miss:
being able to eat anything i want & not gain weight

I fear:
big government

I feel: overwhelmed and too busy

I hear: dennis miller on the radio in the background
& he has magically picked up the vibes i sent his way
& decided that jon hamm should play dean martin
in the upcoming scorcese film.
he thinks he thought that up all on his own.

I smell: photo lacquer still hanging in the air from yesterday

I crave: sun & water & time to do nothing
& money to do that nothing with

I usually:
dislike anything labeled retro.
it's usually the ugly stuff from back then,
the stuff our moms wore or used.

I search:
for the perfect blue

I wonder:
if any of my dreams will come true

I regret:
not marrying young & getting divorced
so people would stop saying about me
" . . . you know, she's never been married . . . "
as if that means there is something wrong with me.
i will post about this some day.

I love:
too deeply

I care:
about the details

I am always: late/exhausted/needing time off

I worry: that if i take time off, the universe will punish me
& the business will fail

I remember:
birthdays whether i send cards or not

I have:
friends who are uneasy about any success i have;
it upsets who i am in their lives

I dance:
when no one is watching

I sing:
made-up songs to my cats

I don’t always: finish my cokes

I argue:
with facts in hand & questions to ask

I write: with my heart & it's tricky as hell

I lose:
my temper at the drop of a hat

I wish:
i didn't

I listen: more than i am listened to

I don't understand: guys (it's always guys)
with those silly (and they are silly)
ridiculously loud car stereos with bass
you can hear from blocks away
who then leave the car & stereo running
while they run into the loan store next door.
okay, maybe i do understand.
it's like a mating dance and that's all they've got to offer.

I can usually be found:
yes - i want to be lost for a while

I am scared:
i will be old & poor
& dependent on the government

I need:
more time alone than people think

I forget: more than I used to

I am happy:
on my own

i found this meme at the lovely caroline's place.
her answers were deeper than mine, but never mind.
you can play along.
you know you want to.


For Graciel: Proof of Angels

the morning snow
soft soft falling slow
disappearing into your skin
the moment it found you.
a dance with angels

the snow of mid-afternoon
faster colder bigger
then small, almost gone, almost rain,
then back again.
out there now in the late afternoon
it is once again soft and slow,
unable to make up its mind.

i take it as it is.
a gift.
a sign.


2 Years and It Comes with Snow

Outside it smells like Christmas. There is a white sky turning black as nighttime moves in, there is a prediction of snow for tomorrow, which brought sighs and I don't wants from me until I remembered that tomorrow is also my 2nd blogiversary and I will take a little snow with that, a bit more magic from the Texas sky and yes, once again, I will hold out my hands and catch all the magic I can.

And once again - the painting that began it all for me, the painting that changed my life. The painting that dared me to tell you stories, to take you on a midnight stroll down my street, through my life, dared me to not care, at least not right out loud, if no one read me or liked me, dared me to catch all the magic I could for me and see what came of it. And what came of it has been more than I would have thought possible.

I have nothing to say, I used to tell the ever-wonderful Michael, when he asked why I didn't paint more - I know I've mentioned that to you. I still feel that way, I have nothing to talk about, nothing to show you, and yet you are still here, so many of you from way way back when I thought no one was listening. When I think of Emma Tree, I think of owls and nighttime and blue skies and loss and heartbreak and pear tree blossoms and the moon and summertime naps and cats gone and cats going, and weddings and blue lights wrapped around a spiral staircase and raccoons and cardinals, and every year a yard full of robins, and bare feet and dreams and magnolia trees frosted with snow. I think of unfurling ribbons and white handprints on silver paint, candlelight and blue chairs and shadows and thunderstorms and wet leaves tracked through the house, and the too-early late Willy deVille on the stereo. I think of this place, this time and I wonder if I moved would I give it a new name, would it still be Emma Tree, and I don't know, I truly don't, it is such a part of this time of my life, this place of my life, that it would almost feel wrong to take it with me. And yet, how could I not? It is the story of my days and that is all, I think, but I have to laugh because last week when my links began to disappear and I despaired of ever having this place back in order, I was in tears lest my words be lost, staying late at work to save text files on a separate drive, printing out page after page of stories, crying in my office until the deed was done.

Just the story of my days.
Such small days they are.
But they are full of magic.
And I admit there are days I forget that,
forget to just hold out my hands
and catch it.
But there are other days I remember
and my hands overflow.

Thank you.
I cannot say it enough.


1st Owl of the Year

an owl for love's 19th day
representing real life,
real things.

i love a real, live owl in a tree
in my neighborhood;
i love that there will be more.

i love that i have a neighbor who will call me when he spots them.

i love the washing machine doing what it's supposed to do,
noisy back there behind me,
i love the warm and solid feel of a cat asleep in my lap,
i love hot water coming out of the faucets when i want it to.
i love the smell of my shampoo.
i love blessed sleep
and neighbors who know when to leave you alone.

i love the fact that i am figuring this blog out all on my own,
no help from blogger.
but i am still thinking about square space.

hopefully blogger will hang together till then.

if then.


Some February Love for the Small Things

This morning,
the cawing of a crow,
shadows stretching across AC's back yard,
A few robins.
A cat asleep in front of the fire.
Yesterday a redtailed hawk low over the house.
I think spring is coming, memsahib.

My facebook status this morning.

I was awake early, pulling my white slipcover (thank you Rachel Ashwell for the white denim Target version) from the dryer, struggling it back onto the couch, enticing Maggie to eat, she on the washing machine, then she off the washing machine, a jump that hurt her, a back leg injured, so off to sleep in front of the fire, and I admit I leaned my head against the couch as I struggled and pulled and pinned (don't tell anyone) and I cried. The little things just do me in, and it seems lately my life is full of little things just waiting to pounce, and I've always disagreed with that don't sweat the small stuff philosophy; I figure you should - the big stuff I worry less about, I always know what to do about the big stuff, it always works itself out or not, and usually there's not much you can do about it anyway. So I try to take care of the small stuff, God is in the details and all that.

The small things this morning were the cawing of that crow - it's been a long time since I've heard that, I think the West Nile virus hurt them, but they are back, I see more & more of them, and it made me rush to the windows and out into the yard, but it was an elusive or invisible crow, and I never saw it. The small things were the way the shadows of the trees open their arms to the day and stretch across the street, across AC's yard, up the walls of his house, like a welcome, like a hug. The small things were the squirrels, of which we have tons, skittering across tree limbs and across the grass - the bare trees let me see past AC's backyard, into Mary Lou's and beyond, and I can watch the squirrels from here on the couch all the way to there. The small things were cardinals, bright red spots here and there, and if close enough, I could make out the less flashy females, a male always nearby. The small things were the robins again, trees full of them when I opened the blinds, but they've moved on a bit, spread out, and more small things were sparrows flitting around.

There is birdsong everywhere.


Mary One Year Gone

It is the evening of Valentine's Day, dark already and it has been cold, the snow gone, snowmen falling to their knees all about us, and I have this picture of a chair to offer you. It is my third to last picture of Mary, the one where I apparently looked away, the next two are fine, she is in focus, but in those she is looking away, seeing a place I couldn't see. In this one she is seeing me. On her way to the hospital for the last time, I surprised her outside her door, she wasn't expecting me, and I see that in her eyes, I see that she knows me, she knows what is happening, she knows, she knows, she knows, and perhaps that is why I focused on the chair, perhaps it's not that she moved or that I messed up, perhaps seeing that knowledge was just too hard, perhaps I just couldn't acknowledge it back. The next time I saw her was 2 or 3 days later and she was back home, in her bed, just like she wanted, exactly where she wanted to die, but she was mostly gone, and sometimes I think it probably didn't matter, she was so unaware of things and us, but I know that's wrong, there were moments of awareness, just moments, but we were there and spoke to her and held her hands and kissed her cheeks and Lyndi-Linda seldom left her side.

It will be a year tomorrow - it was a Sunday morning and I'd been sleeping on the couch, keeping her house in my sight if I awoke. and I knew when I did wake that morning it was over. I could see lights on and her son-in-law pacing the dining room. It was about 5 and I knew and I can't remember if I got up or if I went back to sleep, but I waited until I saw Lyndi drive up, or maybe she called, I am so unclear, but I got up and I got dressed and I said goodbye to her, to Mary, though she was already gone and it mattered not.

Here, a year later, I will tell you that I am angry with her, mad at her for no funeral, mad that she donated her body to science, angry that the memorial service didn't take place until April, and I hope she is listening. I have grieved before, I have buried my father, was by his side when he died, I am not new to this process, but this has been a hard year, and that lack of ritual holds much of the blame. To myself I call it The Year of Not Reading, the first time in my life books have not been friends to which I could turn, only one or two new ones started and finished, tons of new ones stacked and waiting, a few pages read, then the books put aside, as, one by one, I found nothing there. I painted and then stopped, and I began to write. It has been a selfish year, a year of self absorption, of looking backward to where I was and how I got there and how I got here, and I found time for others' words only in small doses, but those doses were solace. The blogging world is daily full of paragraphs and tales by strangers-become-friends, and y'all will never know how much a pretty sentence lightened my heart, how it affected my day to read of a peach eaten in a kitchen with sunlight streaming through the window, how images of trees and dogs and this and that made me smile and tear up. You will never know how much I missed you when I began to write more and more, leaving painting temporarily behind, learning to use my camera as my canvas, letting go of trying too hard, time itself difficult to come by. A very selfish year indeed. I bow to you with Namaste hands for still being here.

But a year it has been. A year too quickly gone, too many changes outside my windows, not enough inside. I miss her still, miss her friendship, miss the ease of our conversations and our silences together, and now, having told her of my anger, perhaps I can read again. Maybe not. Who knows? Perhaps that will only come when Maggie has also gone. In the meantime I will continue to find favorite passages in books already read and re-read those.

" I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesterdays are buried deep -- leave it in any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance. The cloud clears as you enter it. I have learned this, but like everyone, I learned it late." ~ Beryl Markham / West with the Night

The cloud clears as you enter it.
How wonderful.


We got snow! & please excuse my silliness, but it's east Texas and we got snow!!!

Not a sight I thought I would ever see here in NE Texas.

But I have a 4WD and the ever-wonderful Michael doesn't.
He couldn't get out of his friend's driveway,
having spent the night there instead of driving
all the way to his house in the snow.
Which meant me to the rescue.
Which meant I got to see this.

Something else I also thought I'd never see.
My front yard, earlier in the morning.

I'd awakened to snow the likes of which I haven't seen in years and was out the door at 6:30 in pjs and boots and a coat and a camera and I have a jillion pictures, even one of Lyndi-Linda in a bright pink robe and flipflops outside doing a bit of photo taking herself. It was still a bit dark and the streetlights glowed pink on the brick streets.

I tramped around for quite a bit,
leaving my front door wide open to the morning.

A broken branch across the street.

And, like I said, a jillion other images. There were snowmen here and there, even right next door, my neighbor having built him last night, but I admit my favorite was one I spotted on my way into work.

I haven't stopped smiling all day.


Day 11 - Love of Unexpected Pleasures

It is snowing outside,
a surprise when I awakened,
though it had been predicted.

It is soft and slow.
And so, for this 11th day of love,
I choose unexpected pleasures.
And, in response to Graciel's post,
(Skip to 1:58)


a bit of l'air du temps for ink

a tulip tree floated by, startling me.
pink. all in pink,
all in flowers.

there is an owl in the knothole
of the tree around the corner.

i spoke today to an old friend in Arizona,
and remembered the snow in her mountains.

the tenth day of love has arrived,
and this is my confession,
that lately i care much less
for images and words so perfect.
today i admit my love for
words that are a perfume on the inside of my wrist,
images that whisper sweet nothings,
for a posy of thoughts
wrapped in torn blue strips of cotton,
my favorite dress of long ago summers.
i admit my love for the spaces between thoughts,
for the words not needed,
for the missed focus,
for the down-the-rabbit-hole
movement of a photograph,
pulling me with it.
small stories.
for the not being able to tell
where the words end and life begins.


Day 9 is for Me & Not Fitting In

Full of words this weekend,
tonight I am an Edward Hopper painting.

Waking with a heart full of not-fitting-in, almost lonely but not time enough alone, too many words this weekend, too inside myself, too thinking, thinking, thinking, but the words came fast and furious and you don't ignore the muse, so I let them come, they live in Mombasa anyway, who was I to stop them, and last night in a room full of people I was alone, settling into that lone-ness, not quite the same thing as alone-ness, but not fitting in, not full of chatter, my words already spent for the day, just settling into the end of the day, into the listening, and later coming home, alone again in a car on a road full of cars, that separateness a blessing, the darkness a disguise for not fitting in, passing the sign pictured above, a neighborhood business, I've seen this sign a million times, but last night it spoke to me like a painting, said everything I was feeling.

This morning I sat with that feeling and sat with the morning to see what today would tell me, and it began to rain, surely a sign to let it be, this lonely in a crowd thing, and so I have, I have allowed it to stay, to run its course like a fever, and that rain poured down all day, bringing a cold wind with it, the rain gone by early this evening, but the cold still here, and as I sit here on the couch, there is a train going by in the distance, its whistle perfect music for this night, for this feeling, and day 9 of love is for me, for the me who is different, for the me who doesn't fit in and never has, for the me who finally understands that it's okay, that it's more than okay, that the fitting in would take away the words.


I am at Vision & Verb today, talking about smooches.

I don't have a picture up because,
well, it's the morning after Super Bowl,
and I also forgot about yesterday - Day 7 of Love,
for which I will just say that I love me some Peyton Manning regardless.

Day 8 is that smooches thing I mentioned above.
Just click here and read all about 'em.


Softness and Power and Something 'bout You: Love, Day 5

love is the softness of an argument
in another town,
you walk the early morning streets
before returning to the hotel,
asking how this softness you feel
holds such power,
so much power you have returned,
and he has no answer,
only that it holds power over him also,
and the softness of that admission
is the answer to your question.
hot springs, years ago


Day 4 of Love and I Lose Myself

I love days like these, when the words flow freely from my fingertips, when the rain silences the outside sounds, the world pulled back into its cocoon for a bit, cold weather coming, rain here now, when I could sit for hours and just describe for you the squirrels scuttling down the hackberry tree, finding shelter, the pale golden reflection of the lamp behind me in the glass doors, the absolutely perfect position I am sitting in to type, slouched at just the right angle, pure comfort, I have been here for a while, fingers making few mistakes, knowing their places on the keys. I am hurrying against the clock, late for work, writing all morning; when it comes, you have to let it come, not stopper it up, but I am hurrying it, hurrying it, thinking it will not be finished until tonight, thinking I cannot possibly get through it this morning, knowing I need to step out into that rain and find a picture, thinking it will be Katie's blue lights, they being something I also love, knowing I cannot marry the picture to words until later, always later, later in my life, but the joy of the words finding their way is now, and I love these moments, a love equal to many other loves in my life, the losing of myself quite pleasant. Like so many loves, the losing of myself and the finding of myself at the same time. Ecstasy.
i may have been born to write


Love, Day 3: Both Gone

She lost them both.

Husband first,
son 2 days later.
He was only 4.

Love lives on.

I've had this image since last July,
standing in the overpowering sun,
in the cemetery that holds my father,
my uncle, my cousin.

And this.

Am I betraying her,
this stranger,
this woman who lost so much?
Or am I sending her message into the world?
She makes no secret of it.
She says it out loud.
They lived.
We loved.
i wish her peace


he hasn't seen avatar - love, day 2

I am not a girly girl.
I wear jeans and cowboy boots
and go too long between haircuts
and my hands look like an artist's hands,
but he loves me anyway.

I swear too much, I complain a lot.

He hasn't seen Avatar
because I say I will need Dramamine to do so.

I am a picky eater and a picky shopper, easily annoyed, always rushed, always late, achy breaky, bitchy bitchy. He fixes plumbing and lighting and my car and my cat and I don't thank him enough; I am surely not the woman he dreamed of when he was younger. If, in fact, he dreamed of one woman. I have my doubts. I am a worrier, a loud sigher, and he remembers me younger, in bikinis, thinner, firmer, a me who didn't need glasses to read, but he loves me anyway.

i love him right back


some blue february magic and day one of love

some monday night magic and words of love
because i told graciel i would.

said i would talk about love for 28 days,
for every day of february,
she picking up curious girl's idea.
and because christina said february was pretty
on the inside,
making me cry when i read it
and the reason i cried was because of love,
was because love had made the weekend so hard,
had made my heart hurt,
had made my heart full,
had made me whisper into maggie cat's ear
that if she was ready to go, it was okay,
though it really wasn't;
it was just love talking.

love does that, you know,
it makes you say things you don't mean,
usually words
you wish you could reach out & grab,
stuff them back inside before they make a sound,
but you never can.
they are out there and nothing you can do about it,
but because you are loved,
the other person forgives you.

but sometimes the words you say
are true words of love,
the hardest of all,
the ones that can leave you empty
and alone
because you love enough to let go.

join in if you want.
28 days of love.
28 days is a lot, i know,
and i am not crossing my heart.
but i will try.

stop by & let curious girl know.

and ps - that's lily in the picture above.
patient lily who listens to me about maggie.
nighttime in front of the emma tree.
she loves me too