“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


when things get hot, the hot go shopping

we are now at 32 days in a row of serious hotness, of temperatures over 100.  today may be 33, but even if it's not, it will just be a bit of white noise in the machine of summer; next week the forecast is blistering - 103, 104, 105, 106.  the rain we get feels like tiny pieces of heaven on our skin, and we get out in it, my sweeties, and then, poof!  it is gone in less than 30 minutes, and that only happens . . . well, once, yesterday, and our driveway was dry again in seconds.   i am grateful for the 10 minute babyshowers that have shown up on a couple of evenings and have stopped keeping an umbrella in the jeep, a first, a fist i shake at the heavens, a temptation i think those gods up there cannot resist, but they do.  eating lunch outside requires a fan, or two or three, but really, it is not enough when the blessing of air conditioning is just through the door.  the heat of this laptop as i type away is enough to bring on a sweat.  when i use the washer and dryer, steam rises in the house . . .  okay, not really, but it may as well, the hot dampness settles on my skin just the same.  it has been august all summer, and august is not yet here. 

and yet.  it is not bad.  i am headed out today and will buy cherries, and an apple cinnamon cake already made, maybe a key lime cupcake.  i will load up on salsa, chips, avocadoes, lemons, topo chico and ice ice, baby.  i don't cook anyway and the heat is another excuse for finger foods eaten in front of the television.  pickled okra, sharp cheddar, sharper olives, crackers. 

i will spend time oohing & ahhhing over fingernail polish, choosing another color for another hot month.  i will smell lotions, buy this, put off a haircut yet again and just pile my hair on my head or pull it back into a ponytail.  i will browse the aisles everywhere i go.  i will be wearing a skirt.  i will buy another book; the kindle seems wrong and awkward for summer and i am once again seduced by real paper bound together by words, by bookcovers with raised letters and exotic images, by the peace i find in bookstores.  it is too hot to shop for clothes, too hot to even think of clothes, but shoes will call my name and i may listen.  bracelets and anklets will wink at me as i pass by, sensing my weakness.  i will listen.

i will watch baseball on tv
and old movies.

almost august.
i may take pictures.
maybe tomorrow.



almost a dream

last night,
too much awake under my skin;
sleep sleeping soundly across the room,
nestled into a boot or the toe of a black stiletto,
no thoughts pricking at its in-vain-we-are-closed eyelids.
behind mine a card game played,
king, queen, july, june,
an incomplete deck of the year stacking backwards,
the rules fuzzy, vague,
my unseen opponent a cheat -
an ace in the hole,
february up a sleeve.

this morning,
too much not-enough-sleep in my belly;
months still missing,
diamond cards scattered across the bed,
hearts smothered under the pillows.
a coke and strawberries equal breakfast
and the card today is a faded july;
i found it taped to the outside of the door when i opened up the day.



jeans and bare feet and 24 hour drugstores

the sound of rain outside,
money in the bank,
a 12 point lead in the 8th inning.
little women,
extra batteries,
purring cats,
a full tank of gas,
stars that stay in the sky.
surge protectors,
boxes of matches,
his sleeping front against my back.
stacks of books,
cups of pens,
a clock ignored.
phones that ring,
phones that don't.
lord of the rings,
olive loaf sandwiches.
silent hugs.
a kiss hello.
apple pie.



august plans

my skirt caught by the wind.

what i like the very best about this shot is my shadow cast across the skirt's billowiness, the shadow straggles of my ponytail behind my arm and flopping onto the concrete above my foot as i tilt my head down to take the picture.  i remember once giving that tip to robin - take ponytail elastics to keep your hair up and out of the image.  in a hot wind, my ponytail is never neat - actually not neat ever, but especially in a hot summer wind when i have ceased to care.  there is no doubt i will remember this hot hot summer, but this image places me here in the middle of it all; i will remember the heat of that wind, of that particular day.

it has not been all heat and dreams and lack of rain.  there has been some summerness despite all those things.  august will find me in two places this year.  susannah's august break and live it to the full's e-course: emerge.  one of those places is about less words, if any, the other about transitions.  i have no idea what it will look like here, but i am excited.  i am unable to keep quiet, i've tried before, i know, so there will be words, but fewer of them.  at least that is the plan.  :)  that is the august break plan.  emerge may change that, may find me needing to write pages and pages of who knows what, but my heart says it will allow me to sit with a few things in silence before saying them.  the two may be a perfect fit.  expect me here every day to show you some of my other summer.


if you are interested in participating in august break
or enrolling for the emerge e-course,
it's not too late.
just follow the links above.


counting the days to rain

we are ruled by the sky.

in my dream the grass was green,
the window shutter butter yellow,
open to baby raindrops so fine they drew spider thin lines across the air,
their sound soft and splussshy,
pitter patter pitter patter
against the backyard of my childhood.
i awoke to gray skies and no birdsong,
a breeze that teased of wet possibilites. 
by 10 o'clock the skies were blue,
the birds awake and on wing.

we have been counting the days to rain,
measuring the heat.
there are fewer mosquitoes
and a ladybug dead on my bathroom windowsill.
the lakes are filled with hot water,
the cold water in the house warm enough for a shower.
elaine's mantra is october, october,
connie jean says come-a-rain,
margo says it's texas.


early evening - rain.
a teaser, the bricks on the street barely wet.
the late shadows under trees still dry.



and then they were gone

leaving the lake there were drops of rain.
and then there weren't.

i remember a drought a few years ago that was not as bad as this one,
though it seemed so at the time.
i remember when the rain came
at last
at last;
we sat on my mother's covered back porch
and reveled in the sound of heaven's waking
and the coolness of the air
at last
at last,
and just like that it was over.
the drought, i mean.

it was there and then it wasn't.

like waking up from a dream.


i keep dreaming of my mother.
she is lost, always lost;
i can see her on a different road,
a curve below me winding away,
and then she is around the bend,
and i know i can never find her.
she doesn't have a phone, i tell myself,
she will have to call me.
i can't call her.
have i told you this? it seems i have;
you will have to forgive me.
but the dreams keep coming
and i never get closer -
you know the way of dreams.
i wake in the mornings sometimes breathless,
it can take hours to move past them and into my day.
but they are the only times i have with her
and one night even the dreams will leave.


august is coming, memsahib,
i see the light on the curve of the road.



. . . and that will bring us back to trust

foolish me.
i was trying to catch a shadow and lost;
it was gone before i refocused the camera.
i should've known,
though in truth i think the knowing would not have stopped me.
a shadow in the hand being worth two in the bush and all that.

the shadow danced away into the mirror you can't see
and was gone,
leaving a waiting empty chair in that painting below.

see how that worked?
i had no idea until i typed those words.
2 posts right in a row with waiting chairs.
that's called trusting your soul, baby.
that's called this is not the image i wanted to post
but something told me i should.

it's not about the chairs, you know,
not about the waiting or the emptiness,
not about just showing pieces of those chairs.
it's about paying attention when you know you know
but you don't know why you know.
it's about trust. 

funny how that worked.
because i've been thinking about places of trust,
thinking it was up to us to find them,
thinking we would know them immediately.
trust at first sight, you know.
i'd forgotten about trusting our hearts and souls
and even our bellies.

that's what this is all about.
i had no idea.



yesterday was my mother's birthday

and i bought empty pages waiting for words
and i waded throught the heat
and i didn't visit the cemetery.
i ate strawberries instead
and watched a henry fonda movie
and i let her cat wander in and out of my house.
it seemed enough.



adrift on the surface of summer

i have spent the week with a water hose in my hand,
jiggling lawn sprinklers into just right positions,
but azaleas have died anyway. 
mistime a spot by a day and tomorrow is too late. 
there is a turtle dead,
a dogwood about which i have doubts. 
the heat shimmers over everything; 
it is the 19th day of temperatures over 100,
102 as i begin to type this,
cooler than yesterday. 
the sun sits heavy atop everything,
leaving hotness behind for the moonlight to struggle through;
if we are lucky, the nights fall below 80, but not by much. 
rain is a stranger, a tease.
10 minutes yesterday and the brick streets were dry within another 20.

i am too lazy to watch movies
if it requires anything more than changing the channel,
and the news is spit, static, lies;
the kindle is untouched,
all reading stopped midstream.
i am mesmerized by the heat,
under its enchantment.
cicadas sing me awake each day
and lull me to sleep when the darkness is deep enough.
i float on the surface of this summer,
adrift in the hot winds,
trailing my hand in the would-be waters,
eyes closed against the glare,
and i dream of rain with no umbrellas in sight.



how you know you're in the right place, chapter 1

where katie buys her milk is a half hour drive on east texas back roads
and there is no one there when you get there.
there are refrigerators full of milk and cream
and this season's vegetables,
and there is a bulletin board with phone numbers
for fresh blueberries or cream peas
and there are stacks of homemade goat's milk soap
and there is trust.

you take what you need and you drop your money in a box.
you make sure to shut the door when you leave.
the wind will catch it if you don't.

file this under why i live where i live.



birdless in the jungle

saturday morning and she has captured a mockingbird, running fast through the yard and the monkey grass, running toward me with this gift of feathers in her mouth. i make it to the open front door just in time, closing it; she is confused, staring at me, green green eyes over those sadly still feathers, but only for a moment.  she turns, rounding the corner for the open bathroom window. it is a gift she must give me - i see it in those eyes - but i lower the bathroom window before she gets there and head outside.

she is in the side yard, spitting tiny breast feathers from her mouth, and the bird is on its back in the hot morning grass, mostly unharmed, breathing fast, not moving, in shock. skye sits several feet away, watching me. we are separated by the breaths of this bird.  this gift.

i turn the bird over, still on the ground, cradling it. one eye is slightly damaged and i wonder if it can see, wonder if a one-eyed bird can fly, how that might affect its depth perception. the cat is calm, rubbing against me, happy.  no way to explain to her i'd rather see the bird in the trees, hear its song, no way to explain to her my silly notion that birds are messages from my mother - pagan as this cat is, she would bring me another.  a love letter from her. 

i remove my hand and the bird makes a running-almost-flying attempt at a getaway and skye is on it again, but too late. the bird manages to skitter into the nether reaches of an overgrown holly bush, coming to rest between close growing stalks on the ground.  the cat can't get to her, but settles in for the wait. i can't reach the bird, i can't deter the cat - i can't get to her either - so i walk away, hoping she will follow.  she doesn't.

10 or 15 minutes pass and i see skye lying in the shade under my jeep.  she is birdless.  i step back out to the holly bush and the mockingbird is still there, alive but just heartbreakingly so, breathing a bit easier, but still, that eye.  i push my way in through the leaves and gather it into my hand.  its breath doesn't quicken at my touch and that is either a bad thing or good, it is either too far gone or knows me as friend, but i don't think beyond that - i find a low lying branch on the hackberry tree, but not too low, and it scooches slowly from my hand and hops up one more branch out of my reach - i like that, but when i step away it looks lost.  scared.  exhausted.  i don't know if it will make it.

5 more minutes and i check again.  it is still there, still breathing.  it has turned to look upward into the higher branches.  10 more minutes and it flies away, and while i am delightedly doublechecking, skye brings a lizard into the house and lays atop it to prevent me from taking away this prize. 

it may look civilized out there, neat, lawns mowed, edges trimmed, but it's a jungle.  never think otherwise.



it only looks like rain

this morning begins with no shadows,
no birdsong.
hidden squirrels,
gray skies,
a still sleeping cat,
it looks like rain may come,
but looks are not to be trusted,
and the tv weatherman throws in a percentage of probably not. 
it will be 100 degrees, he says, and will feel like 105,
the humidity already 79%. 
as we say around here,
it is louisiana hot.
it is sultry steamy sweaty and we will feel like not moving much
but we will. 
it is skirt weather,
it is don't go anywhere without a drink in your hand weather. 
ne texas. 

this year we have religion. 
we pray to the rain gods and cloud gods and jesus
and we tell buddha we know it is what it is but what it is needs rain,
and when we pass a handpainted sign tacked to a tree
in the way back of the woods,
a sign painted in red - FAITH - we cross ourselves and say an amen. 
when we turn around to find the sign,
to take a picture,
and it is not there,
we don't question. 

faith, baby



i spy summer

cicadas cicadas cicadas,
one lazy bark from the dog next door,
the air conditioner's hum.
nothing else but the softness of my fingers on these keys.

the sun is no longer pushing hard past the leaves.
the sky has gone pale gray, preparing for bed,
and a breeze is picking up -
the leaves of the hackberry tree wave hello -
hinting at last night's rain from nowhere;
a surprise wind and far off lightning,
and sudden big fat oh my god thank you raindrops
out there in the darkness.
i walked outside,
into it, in it,
baptized by the steam rolling up off the hot street.
i may have said a hallelujah or two.
it was gone in less than an hour.

there are no lights out there now;
the neighbors all gone, the streetlight not working.
the world is a silhouette of black against the now almost dark sky.
a lone cricket,
and suddenly silent cicadas.

night falls.
the cicadas return.
fade to black.



yesterday was july 3rd, and i cried uncle

i gave in.
i whined complained sweated swore,
and stared daggers at anyone who talked about the hot hot breeze
like it was a good thing.
the heat won.
it beat me.
i am not too proud to admit it.
h.o.t. spells miserable hot the lake ain't helping.

tonight is the 4th.
the skies are dark with thunder and there is lightning in the air,
hot exclamation points at the end of this holiday.
there is wind 
and there are firecrackers 
and the whistle and whoompf of illegal fireworks
but there is no nada rain.

the heat goes on.