“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


exhibit 1. window.

i take images and prop them against a wall inside my computer,
as if they were paintings or words to ponder.
i wander back and wonder what i saw,
what i thought,
what drew me,
what spoke to me,
because even if i thought i knew at the time,
there are so many moments captured in that 30th of a second
waiting for me.

exhibit 1.



the scintilla project. day 11: a story with no pictures and no real plot.

used to be on spring and summer weekends i would drive to a nearby lake and spend the day alone, me and a book and a bottle of not very powerful sunscreen, wayfarers and a chaise lounge, and i would pretend i was listening to music, would put on silent earphones to keep guys from bothering me, from pretending to care what book i was reading.  the day was about me and the water and the sun, and whatever book i'd bought at the gas station's 88¢ used book rack, where i found my favorite book ever -  a short history of a small place by tr pearson - found it as a surprise nestled next to all the romance novels, a gift from the universe.  sprawled at that lake on that white imported sand with a coke next to me was about being alone, alone, oh, and it was about the heat of the sun and the cool-sometimes-cold of the water.  my favorite bikini ever was a strapless pink thing - ruffles for the top and not much else, and me in my 30s still looking damn good; the heat would bake away my thoughts and the words of the book behind my sunglasses would take me away better than calgon ever could.  i did this for years.  some years february was warm enough, other years it was april, and i would grow antsy waiting for spring, the need for that sun on my skin a drug that spelled sanity.  if i was lucky and managed to get a day off during the week, when the lake was mostly people-less, i would push a floatie into the water and float around until it got too hot, dragging one hand  and a foot in the water, letting the fish tickle me with their tiny bites.  one year the lake had alligators; two or three of them wandered up from where the people never go and made surprise appearances, shut the lake down for a day or two, and i always wished they'd sold tshirts - i survived the summer of 1990 whatever it was at lake such & such, with a big picture of a hungry alligator on the back, but they didn't and now i don't remember the year.

it was the lake where i saw way too many tattoos on way too many shoulder blades, and overheard drunk conversations and personal tidbits.  it was the lake where, on a particularly crowded day, the guys sitting behind me discussed the merits and possibility of swimming out to a boat anchored not too far out and just killing the boat's owner, he having more money than they, and therefore more women in bikinis, and fine, hot women they were, discussed in lurid alcoholic detail, lounging about under the sun, talked about just killing him and taking the boat, but they kept drinking beers and eventually the beer knocked some sense into them, temporary as it might have been.

it was the lake where one early morning day when i was the only person on the beach, a family who was camping nearby showed up with their pets, neverminding the no pets sign in the same way i neverminded the no food sign; one of their pets was a kitten and when the young teenage daughter walked out a ways into the water, shoulder high into the fabulous wet chillness, that kitten swam out to her, and climbed up onto her, claws out, scrabbling its way up her shoulder onto her head.  no amount of screaming for her dad to come help could make him stop laughing or make that kitten come down, and she finally had to wade back to shore to convince it to let go.

i would lay in the sun and cool off in the lake and read myself sane, and when i was done i would drive home listening to the classical music station that has now been replaced by a christian music station, because you apparently cannot have too many christian music stations in this part of texas.  i fell in love with a bach concerto, but i don't remember which one.  i got older, i moved farther away, reading began to require glasses, just baby help, +1 readers, but impossible to find sunglasses in that prescription.  i have to get up earlier to beat the crowd and getting to the lake can just somedays be work when i want to sleep late on a saturday morning.  last summer i didn't make it once, though i made it to other lakes suffering through the heat and drought.  i've grown fatter - last year was probably the last bikini this body will wear - and suddenly it is impossible to buy a cheap folding chaise anywhere.

i may not make it to any lake this summer.  i have excuses not yet used.


day 11.  tell a story you haven't told yet.
give it a different ending.
don't tell where you start changing things.
just go.



the scintilla project. day 9: 23 things, aka shoes

teal allstars
purple justin ropers
red justin ropers
black justin ropers
black justin ropers knee high
ralph lauren brown riding boots
green suede flats
black patent stilettos
denim flipflop stilettos
turquoise leather stilettos, toes as pointed as those old madonna bras,
shiny blue gap flats, a $3 bargain
black leather flats with pilgrim buckles
pink rain boots with white polka dots
bright blue rain boots
black steel toed rubber knee high boots
green patent leather stilettos
pearl justin ropers
teal flipflops
turquoise flipflops
brown flipflopes
kitten heel black funeral pumps
black leather flats with giant bows across the toes
lime green flip flops.

only a few of those are scattered across the floors.
and i have more.

day 9.  write a list of 23.



sunday, the short version

i sat in the sun today, and let the weeds tickle my toes.  when the next door neighbors skedaddled for a bit, katie and i took advantage of their empty front porch swing that's instead hung from an oak tree and moved from the sun into shade, and watched the tourists parade through the azaleas.  we even, for the first time ever, got our ownselves up and wandered through the big garden catty-cornered across the street.  the neighborhood is pinks and whites and bits of pale yellow and dogwoods and it is spring at last, 80 something degrees in the late afternoon, and my house is a mess and a half, but i don't care.  spring is outside, and the blossoms will be gone too quickly and we will settle into the greens of summer.  the house will still be messy and i will be looking for shelter from the summer sun and i will worry about it then.

the almost nothingness of spring breezes tease us with hints of heat on its way, and flip flops and nail polish seem all the footwear we will need for a while.



the scintilla project. day 8: depression & simple pleasures. without pictures.

the depression come, and it grab me by the throat, and it squeeze real hard, and no out loud words come, just gasps for breath; i close my eyes and see nothing but the orange flickers that say you alive, you alive, and i whisper those words into my soul, feel 'em drop into my heart and spurt out through my arteries and veins and fill my inside, and suddenly that depression that think it so badass lose one more time.  it leave behind some hard pain; sometimes i cry just pushing myself out of bed, that depression leaving bruises and aches all along my right side, but bruises heal, and the pain, too, though that take a long time.  the tv say depression hurts, and i just laugh.

true story: thursday, passing by a funeral home, early for the services, a few cars in the parking lot, car, space, car, space, space, another car, another empty space.  i guess none of the earlycomers knew each other, but there was a mathematical beauty in the spacing of those cars, like they were part of a grand design and didn't know; the driver's side window down on every vehicle and an arm extended from each, a cigarette held tightly in those pre-funeral fingers.  and as we turned the corner i was reminded of that scene in the big chill, another funeral, all those car doors lined up, opening up, there at the cemetery, opening, closing, slamming shut, an inspired bit of filming, all those doors lined up in a row.  maybe the same director here on thursday, lining up those last cigarettes before the final words.

that was the day depression rear its ugly head, wake up next to me on the bed, happy as hell to have me to mess with; i know i have no power and just say bring it, and so it do, it bring it all day long and i leave work early to lay on the couch and watch movies and read old books and it just keep bringing more.  come friday morning it have me by the throat, and i just keep breathing it away, under the pillows; i can't move to find the shower or drive myself to work, and i pray for sleep, but sleep stay far away, depression slippin' it five under the table.  i give up, finally open my eyes, and there be the jingle bell cat sprawled on the air conditioner outside the broken window, her blue eyes staring into mine.  she try to find a way through the glass - i now think she be a she - then she move to the other window, open to the springtime, and is all sweet meows at the screen, but skye cat smack back at her anyway.  that jingle bell cat gets me out of bed and surrounds me -she circle the outside house as i circle the inside.  she outside every window.  depression can't fight those blue eyes and i feel it loosen its grip.  there is hot water in the shower and the ever-wonderful michael buys me mexican food for lunch and an afternoon at the movies.

day 8.  what are your simplest pleasures?
go beyond description & into showing the experience of each indulgence.

that lunch.
the movie.
those blue eyes.
this morning's sunshine.
out loud words again.
whatever the day brings



the scintilla project. day 7: my tribe

the tribe of truthtellers.
poets with guns and namaste hands, grasshopper,
seeing the truth at 60' 6", shaking away the catcher's signs;
we discuss it with my glove over my mouth,
the truth being a dangerous thing.
always and only this tribe only.

when people say speak we know they don't mean it .

the scintilla project.
day 7.  list the tribes you belong to.



the scintilla project. day 4: every day

i fell asleep on the couch late yesterday morning, front door open to blooms and spring and the beginning of tourists, to the warmth and weekend sounds, fell asleep thinking i would just relax for 30 minutes, fell right sound asleep for almost 3 hours, and if i dreamed, i don't recall a one.  when i awoke, the hackberry tree was full of leaves, my old friend this tree surprising me, and i had a confused moment or two, wondering how long i'd been asleep, seeing in my head the images from just last week of this self same very tree, covered with shadows of still leafless wintertime limbs.

the blue sky said spring was almost here, and it was right.


the scintilla project.
day 4. what does your everyday look like?
describe the scene of the happiest moment of every day.


it always starts here.
i raise the blinds and hello hackberry.

today this tree looks nothing like the image above;
today it is leafy and entertwined with wisteria blossoms.
today there is a breeze blowing and the sky has gone gray. 

this tree sits at the almost end of the yard and we have kept each other company for almost 18 years.  i write about it as one would a friend.  it goes bare in the winter, and i can see the trees one block over, but in the heat of summer it spreads out and fills the width of my glass doors, blocking my view.  shade from the heat.  in the autumn its leaves fill the creek that angles through the yard.  right now it is a provocative bit of polka dots and lace, its bareness still peeping through, limbs still showing. 

it is my every morning conversation.



the scintilla project. day 2. growing up.

sometimes supper is yogurt onion dip & celery sticks
with a kitkat bar for dessert.

just because.

because i have grown all the way up.
because my mailbox holds more bills than fun.
because right now at this very moment
i am sitting on a tennis ball acupressuring a very tense muscle
in my bigger-than-it-used-to-be behind.
because buying groceries makes me sigh and i put it off until the cat needs cat food.

because all that happened without my agreement.
because i never said okay.
i know i never signed anything.

except for my driver's license.

i remember my first time driving alone in the desert, southern arizona summer monsoon.  lightning & freedom.  i remember.  maybe that was the moment i bartered my childhood away.  traded for the sky.  traded for the open road, even if the open road brought me back to a workaday job the next morning.  i would make that trade still today, because the worst of days is made all right if you remember to play.  

i don't own a stove
or nylons
or even a coffee table,
but i have boxes of paints and pencils and pastels of many colors;
next to my bed is a glow in the dark star
and last night,
after launching a prayer in the direction of venus,
fuzzy behind clouds full of wishes,
i fell asleep reading wind in the willows.


the scintilla project.
day 2. when did you realize you were a grown up?



the scintilla project. day 1: who am i?

i am the girl the moon watches over,
god already watching out for fools and drunks,
and maybe i would fall face down into that fool category,
no doubt, in fact,
but i am a moon kind of fool
instead of a regular kind of fool
and that,
like taking the road less traveled by,
has made all the difference.


the scintilla project.
day 1. who am i?


pssst . . .

i'm guest posting here today.



begin again

it was 70 some odd degrees when the sun fell behind the trees;
the silhouette of an owl dropped from high in the hackberry tree,
wings spread open wide gathering the dusk the twilight the end of day,
pear tree blossoms kissed my shoulders good night as i rounded the walk
into the back yard behind the house beneath the trees beside the fence.
just when i think i can say nothing else about the cherry laurel
or the smell of sweet olives
or the petal scattered sidewalk, sprinkled polka dotted moon dropped,
lighting my way in the darkness,
march shows up again and reminds me there are stories still untold.



the road of memories. without pictures.

in the end, i sat in the jeep outside a mexican restaurant with a bag of lavender sugar heart cookies, and read, waiting for my food, a sudden unexpected loneliness next to me there on the passenger seat.  i'd driven the afternoon away on back roads with the radio off, stopping nowhere, passing through small towns, past musicians playing for saturday supper, no thoughts, no purpose, nothing tempting me to tarry, turning back toward home only when raindrops began to plop against the windshield, but even then not heading home, turning north and east at every small intersection instead of south, pushing for that old release driving once offered.  the radio on at last, i began to sing along with every bad country song, remembering the feeling of fast summertime roads and music turned up loud, windows down, trading air conditioned air for the feel of  hot wind on my face, bare feet and no cares, that feeling of first falling in love, when he makes you laugh at every joke.  pushing towards that release, that recklessness, but unable to find it.  perhaps just the too much bad music, perhaps the chill of not yet spring, perhaps age, perhaps the last hard year, but i couldn't find it.  could feel the edges of it right against my fingertips but always i chased, never catching, and at last i gave up and turned truly homeward, van morrison on the radio.  a good song at last, full of high school memories - i sang along and then turned the volume down.

memories now next to me, i turned onto a road i never travel, the road on which my grandmother's house once stood, now an empty lot with just the beginning of her driveway remaining.  i pulled in and knew at once where her house had lived, traced in my heart the steps to my uncle's house,  remembered where the four o'clocks grew, remembered the sassafras tree near the embankment next to the road, the chinaberry tree in the backyard, remembered eating under that tree, playing under that tree.  remembered the chicken coops and fresh eggs, remembered the screened in porches and her tiny refrigerator, saw them all again through my child's eyes and laid my head on the steering wheel and cried.  the goneness of things weighs more than the things themselves ever weighed when they were here.  memories tip the scale in their direction.

and so the lavender sugar hearts to bring me back to now.  the 30 minutes in the parking lot, the escape into a  book.  a coke.  the jeep a warm womb against the chill of the day.



. . . dance floor is like the sea . . .

the end of day sun pushes through rain clouds and the grass goes a perfect crayon spring green; i pull into the driveway and suddenly remember the joy of coloring books and lost-in-the-momentness of sprawling on the wooden floor, crayons in a old cigar box, and sun through the windows.  a split second of just right light is how you make a time machine go.  i feel free . . .

it was a bird and the tips of its tail feathers were yellow against gray,
ceiling is the sky,
and in an instant it was gone,
you're the sun, and as you shine on me,
taking its colors with it,
i feel free . . .

the weekend sits outside the door, holding in its empty hands the keys to the jeep.  there is plenty of nothing out there waiting to be embraced.  the sky is pale gray with a threat of rain, the shadows hiding, and climbing yellow roses are opening across the street and around the corner, sprawled across porch tops and roofs, medicine for my soul; take two and call me in the morning.  it is open door weather, though chilly, open doors and the fire of the heater, a balance, yin and yang.  the far off bark of a dog, birdsong, woodpeckers; somewhere someone is hammering, no doubt getting whatever done before the rain moves in.  wild morning glories are beginning to bloom along the ground, dark blue blossoms nestled in the monkey grass and along the creek.

i feel free . . .

the weekend is mine and there are no plans.  there is a full tank of gas and no phone calls to be made or answered. everyone is out of town or busy and i have only me to answer to.  so, a book in my purse, a camera and notebook for companions and i am off to see what i see.  to find my own rhythm.  dancing with the day.

i feel free . . .



march fall down

sometime the pretty fall down.
i speak that in jodie foster's nell voice, i use my hands, i am puzzled
and i run for cover; the sky is falling in flowers and raindrops
and pretty fall down and the storm flatten it
and flatten it more
and it pile all up in the shadows of trees
and then more fall and i can't stop it.
i just watch it fall and watch the wind pull the petals apart.
i say for the rain to stop, but it don't, you know,
it just keep coming.



the stories outside the pages: a new series

“If you take a book with you on a journey,...an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it...yes, books are like flypaper--memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.” 
                                                                                                                      ― Cornelia FunkeInkheart


one of my top 10 books ever;
i own more than 1 copy and neither is hardback
and be still my heart if i happen across an old copy.
i've gifted it to friends
and i always buy myself another if i run across it.
cause you never know.

the first time i saw it was in a markdown bin,
and i'd just taken up with the ever-wonderful michael,
who was a pilot and a reader and in love with africa.
knew st. exupery plus he could rebuild a car's engine,
which i considered damn important -
i like me a man who can do stuff -
and he had me at i would ask you to draw me a sheep
way back when i was in art school.
he gave me the other st. exupery books to read,
the ones that weren't the little prince,
and i flew in his little beat up old plane,
and we read isak dinesen
and we watched out of africa,
and i was newly in love,
and you know that time,
when things click into place,
they really do,
the universe moves with you,
not against you,
and that's how i found west with the night,
the universe moving with me;
i don't think i'd've given it a 2nd glance otherwise.
i turned it over and on the back cover
hemingway was saying wonderful things about ms. markham,
and so i bought it and read it and loved it,
and then i read it out loud to the the ever-wonderful
and he loved it,
has it mostly memorized, in fact -
he, in fact,
is someone to be lost on a deserted island with,
he can quote you entire books
in case the trunk with all your reading material doesn't make it.


i think that's how they get you, these books.
i don't ignore the writing, the words, their stories, their magic,
but i include the stories on the outside of their pages,
the stories that lead you there and keep you.
the stories that bring you back again and again.

that's what this series will be about.
i'm not gonna tell you too awfully much about the books,
google will do that part better anyway.
i will tell you my part about the book i've chosen .
and i will leave with a line or two,
perhaps a paragraph.

this is first only because i already had the graphic.


"I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it 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