“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


almost december

moving into the softness called december.
tonight the local christmas parade,
santa claus,
still almost full moon overhead.

two years ago, i joined graciel in counting down the days to christmas.  an advent calendar of thoughts and photos, poems and silliness.  it was good medicine - i haven't forgotten how it made me feel the magic.  how it made me slow down, and when i didn't or couldn't, how it made me at least stop long enough to take a picture, to write a few words, to say i'm busy  and whew!, but here, isn't this wonderful?   the christmas part made the 25 days in a row, if not easy, at least fun.  i fell into it like a child amongst gifts on christmas morning.

this year i will do it again, and i'm inviting you to join me.  no rules, no have-tos, except that it be about the christmas season, or whatever season you celebrate at this time of year.  i say all the time that the universe is dropping gifts around us, that we just need to reach out and catch them.  hold our hands open.  i'd love it if you opened a gift each day and shared it.  i'll be doing the same.



celebration with a small c: life

i keep opening my doors and life keeps getting in.  it blows in with the autumn winds and sits still with the heat of summer and sneaks silently through the keyhole, dragging moonlight with it, waking me, tapping me on my sleeping shoulders, whispering i should get up, there are stars out there waiting for a waltz, music is playing, get up, get up.  sometimes i do.  life understands when i don't.

life leaves gifts everywhere.  it is messy and the packages are hastily wrapped, the look here  messages scrawled in shadows.  life says hey, your cat is on the neighbor's roof, and listen to that yowling, is that not the best  yowl you've ever heard?  life says taste this tomato, taste it warm right from the earth, let the juices dribble down your chin and dear god,  but isn't this the best tomato ever?  life says there's a flower blooming in the night, it will be open for your pleasure until morning's light, and look at those petals, white against the darkness - isn't that the best blossom ever?  life says inhale.  life also says your mother is dying, take her hand and remember her eyes, it will be all right, there are secrets i'm not telling you yet.  life says you may feel penniless, but walk into the day, the sun is waiting with arms wide open, free for the taking.  life says exhale.


it is kelly's 50th birthday today and for her party she asked for life to be celebrated.  she asked how do you do it and what does it look like?   it looks like the everyday, i thought.  it looks like fallen flower petals and it looks like rain.  it looks like the sounds the birds make at dawn.  it looks like the aisle of the grocery store when a song i love suddenly begins to play overhead, and i cannot help but dance a little dance.  it looks like a sigh, a kiss, an unmade bed.  it looks like cheerios in a white bowl with a bit of silence on the side.  it looks like your team winning, but it also looks like your team just playing the game for the joy of playing.

it looks like a plain vanilla cupcake in white paper, a dance with the wind, pink toenails, warm socks.  it looks like jalapeños with breakfast and silver paint on the walls.  it looks like a fire against the cold of winter, and a deep lake cool against a summer sky and it sounds like steve earle and bob dylan and sometimes taylor swift.  it looks like chick flicks and books that make you cry and all the candles blown out on the first try.

it is all the stuff you forget so easily and all the stuff you can never forget.  it is the cat racing across this keyboard, leaving numbers and symbols typed across the screen, yowling a happy birthday.  is that not the best yowl ever?


kelly is here with a gift of words and wisdom for you all. 
please stop by and wish her the happiest of happy birthdays.  

this post is part of her celebration.



zone 8b

thanksgiving morning.  across the street the ginkgo tree glowed as pale as a cold winter moon; one big wind, i thought, and her modesty will be gone.  here in our yard, the dogwood flashed back at her all orange and winked at me through the open doors.  it was barefoot weather still this side of warmish.

yesterday morning came cold into the day and the leaves were falling, 
leaving the trees,
adios, adios, till next year, goodbye


"trees initiate a process of self-preservation when they notice the shortening of days . 
. ."

i am up late lately, unable to sleep, writing, reading, musing, a tree myself after all, a nearly naked emma tree bracing for winter, feeling the old drop away.  3 or 4 hours of sleep for nights in a row, and then one grand catching up.  pens are everywhere, catching small sentences and thoughts.  something is happening.  i go to the place where i keep my mouth closed tight, taped shut, and that's where the truth falls from my fingertips, smacking hard against the computer keyboard or scrawling upward across the pages, leaving trails of black ink to find my way back again.

"trees are adapted to the climate of the area where they grow. they do not wait for their leaves to be damaged by the harsh conditions of the winter or dry season before losing them.
they prepare in advance for the onset of the unfavourable season . . . "

the unfavourable season.  spelled with a u, it looks not quite so.


sunday morning blooms windless with shadowed light so sharp the trees sit on the lawn like watercolors outlined with fat dark graphite pencils.  not quite real life, but startling so.  no breezes to flutter the still there leaves, the sun not yet over the treetops, just tipping the tops of trees across the street with dabbles of gold.  it is chilly.  my feet are cold even under socks.

i have nothing to teach you, you know.  i worry about that.  i worry it is expected.  my camera has so often sat silent this year, and my words have been few and far between, at least here in this space, and knowing the reason changes little.  i am afraid to move forward into a new year holding so much silence.  in the evenings i write my thoughts on a private blog, thinking i will gather courage and open it up, knowing i won't. 

de·cid·u·ous  (d-sj-s)

1. Falling off or shed at a specific season or stage of growth.
2. Shedding or losing foliage at the end of the growing season.
3. Not lasting; ephemeral.

is this all it is?  is it temporary?  i like wikipedia's definition better: "falling off at maturity", and sit easier with those words, with the added knowledge that i must "regrow new foliage during the next suitable growing season".  truth be told, i have been feeling the growth for months, feeling its itch under my skin, feeling it in the facebook posts i type in annoyance and then delete, in the tweets i erase.  something is coming.  i like that.  i think.  losing one's leaves and baring one's soul to the cold seems cleansing.  necessary. seems like a good idea.

the honeysuckle outside my door
here in this horticultural zone 8
has evolved from deciduous to evergreen
and blooms a little bloom or two during the warmer days of the unfavourable season;
indeed there were blossoms on thanksgiving day.
it will stay green all winter.



the chef sang in spanish

i have been sick and she may be the best cat ever for when you are sick, better even than maggie, cat-of-my-heart, cat-of-my-usedtobe-life; she puts her face to mine and meows, and if she has a shortcoming, it may be that, that she is here too much, her face in mine, all worried looks and feed-me-now meows - i'm not blind enough to not notice it's not all about me, that part of her concern is that i'm the one who knows how to open the cat food.  for the most part though, she comes and goes, inside and out, onto the bed and off, helloing me, making sure i'm still here, curling into sleep next to me.


10 days into november we were covered with sunshine, warm breezes blowing leaves from the trees, the lawn more yellow than green.  11 days in we woke to rain and november looked more like she should - a bit tired,  a bit end of the day, can't wait to get out of those clothes that bind, trying to catch her breath before holiday season.  still sick, my bed was piled with lemon drops and butterscotch candy, my kindle filled with $2.99 western novels.  i went from hot to cold and back again and watched the wind outside the window, feeling much like early november looked.

ah, but here past the midpoint?   the leaves are suddenly red and orange and falling golden into my days.  i listened once again to christmas carols on my way to work and watched small flocks of birds against this morning's blue sky, swooping in slow perfect rhythm to have yourself a merry little christmas,  their white bellies and frilly underneath feathers an indecent flash of petticoats outlined by sober gray; tonight a crescent moon in that same sky, almost dark, almost night, as i passed a window curtained with scarlet sheets, a lamp's light its own moon in the rectangle of red.  and lunch?  lunch, my sweet friends, was migas, no cheese, no onions, just jalapeños please, the eggs scrambled hard, muchas gracias,  a small cafe filled with silence and heaven, when what to our wondering ears should appear but a song sung in spanish, the chef loudly singing to himself as he cooked, his voice full of happy, preparing our food con alegría y amor, with joy and love.  with joy and love.

'tis the season of small moments and unasked for gifts.
i could not stop smiling.



a no story sunday morning

there's no story here.  it's just yesterday's sunday morning with katie keeping an eye on skye cat and lucie lu trying to and skye cat just . . . well, being a cat, blending in with the fallen leaves.  just the hackberry tree and the shadows of leaves and sunshine and morning talk.

but then again, maybe there are many stories.



old and new

yesterday morning's air was chilled, with one last gasp of honeysuckle hanging over the creek, holding onto the very last of summer. november opened her eyes.

the churchbells on the corner sing us into the day.
my front door is open a bit and there is a fire in the heater.
this afternoon will be almost warm enough for the air conditioner.


juxtaposition is magic.

brick by brick, brick next to brick.  another wall is changed, this one behind my bed, and only because i painted the piece of wood i use for a headboard, the flat part of an old drawing table, painting it what looked like emmatree blue in the can and in my office at work, but what looks more green in my bedroom, not so wonderful against the old taupe wall.  so brick by brick the taupe turned white, just that wall, just like that, and now the room lights up in the best of ways.

piece by piece.

a new grayish color now covers my mother's old skinny picnic table, skinny enough to fit on my tiny back porch, a porch i've neglected for a couple of years.  i'd thought to paint the table white, but knew immediately it would be too too.  it needed to be softer, it needed to sit on the old wooden floor with ease, it needed to collect falling leaves with grace.  it has a history, this cheap old table. it once was my family's dining table, all my parents could afford, and while i  thought it was cool, being all young and teenagery, my mother did not - she saw it as evidence of their poverty and would cover it with tablecloths when company came, and laugh about it, but in truth it broke her heart.  she wanted pretty, and this table wasn't that.

times got better bit by tiny bit, and a new house was found, a new table bought - still not the pretty one she longed for, but one she could live with, one that fit into the new space more easily, one that allowed the picnic table to assume its intended duties on the outside of the house; years went by and she moved back to texas, the tables traveling with her.  eventually she found the dining room table she wanted - i liked it so much less, all formal and darkish wood - but she loved it, and when she moved again, after my father died, she dragged all the tables with her once again and even added another, one i actually liked, dark wood notwithstanding.  it sits in my art space, waiting to be painted white, but in the meantime, the picnic table called, and last weekend, the lovely, lovely katie and i moved all the stuff off the porch, everything but that table, and painted.  we watched the redwood soften into a gray and nodded our heads.  yes, this would work.  in the spring, we will paint the back wall of the house, just the bottom brick part, brick by brick, and perhaps the table will change colors yet again, but for now the gray feels right.

2 nights ago was halloween and somehow i forgot that meant trick or treaters, only remembering the candy part as i pulled into the driveway.  ghosts and goblins were already out & about, and i, needing a place to hide - i say this with guilt and laughter - found refuge on the darkened porch, not yet finished, the table piled with empty planters and all the other outside stuff, waiting for this weekend to finish the transformation.  katie came downstairs and we sat in the glow of candlelight and talked the night away, until skye cat came home and the street was once again quiet.  it was more than nice.   
last night was the end of a warm day, temperatures in the mid 80s, and we once again found our way to the porch, sitting by the light of the candle.   the porch, the table, the surrounding darkness, katie's dog next to our feet, things next to things next to other things, begins to feel like home, like a new ritual, like safety and silence and peace.  there will soon be string lights and flowers and chairs befriending the benches, but last night one taper in an old candle chandelier chased away the hardness of the day.

thank you, mother, for keeping that table that made you feel so poor.