“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


winter, northeast texas

there's a tiptoe of color in the front side yard,
january blossoms on the usually, but not always, february tulip tree.
i wore white fake fur earmuffs against the cold gusts of wind, but no coat or socks,
and i smiled at this texas winter.
katie is wishing for one more day of snow;
i am sure if it happens, it will happen when she is in france and she will miss it.



yesterday there was fog and chinese food

it is a month made of lace and loose threads and things long gone, buttons that have rolled under the couch into secret corners, defying your attempts to find clean space.  your hips hurt and your leg also and it is impossible to move that couch and so the buttons stay, leftover pieces from a torn sweater that was never all that warm.  you just liked the color.

it is a weekend with rain as fog.  i have yet to see a raindrop, but the streets stay wet, and the grass, and the trees brush wet leaves against my shoulder as i round the curve to the back yard.  when the fog grows heavy the church steeples disappear into the sky, a perfect unintended architectural moment.


yesterday she wore rainboots and a summer skirt, i wore jeans and flipflops, and despite the sun that today has staked a small claim in the yard across the street, we will no doubt dress much the same. it's hard to argue with a january day that gives you such choices.




yesterday i was the laughing eye in a tornado of blackbirds,
never mind that i was driving.
they moved forward with me into the fog of a warm morning.



unmade sunday morning with dreams

i awoke early and left my dreams half dreamed,
not bookmarked or dogeared,
and i have no idea if they will wait for me or not.
i will apologize and bring them flowers and chocolates -
they were good dreams full of colors and silk -
but they are fickle things
and may want sugar cookie hearts.



50 books

the morning was cold.
there were moments of wind howling through the windows that don't quite perfectly meet the walls.
there was sleet.

i am grateful to live on this street, on this small block, where i think nothing of tucking pjs into boots and running into neighbors' yards to take pictures.  where they  think nothing of it, at least they've not said anything.  indeed, one neighbor has told me it makes him smile to see me running about with my camera.  in truth it probably makes him laugh, but he is kind to just say smile.

my small world.


perhaps it's because i have a fear of travel - not a fear of other places, but of travel - that i find so many books about other places on my list.  i all the time travel in my dreams, and i all the time travel when i read.  even so, when uncle typewriter tossed out the idea of listing our favorite books, and kelly said 50 books  for her Year of 50 Things, and i said i'm in, i was surprised at all the places i've been.

i've often said plot is secondary for me, that it is the beauty of the words i find more important.  my list is full of foreign lands, magic, safety, courage, and a bit of baseball.  the first 5 or 6 are indeed my first 5 or 6, but the books beyond are in no particular order. numbers 9 & 40 i may never read again - they were such hard, beautiful reads - and number 10 makes me defensive; do not judge this incredible poetic book by the chick flick movie (and i say this as someone who loves the movie).  some are true stories.  all are pages to other places.  magic carpet rides.

  1. a short history of a small place / t.r. pearson     
  2. wind, sand and stars / antoine de sainte-exupery
  3. the far pavilions / m.m. kaye
  4. to kill a mockingbird / harper lee
  5. out of africa / isak dinesen
  6. west with the night / beryl markham
  7. the milagro beanfield war / john nichols
  8. the last place on earth / roland huntford
  9. cold mountain / charles frasier
  10. under the tuscan sun / frances mayes
  11. seabiscuit / laura hillenbrand
  12. gates of fire / steven pressfield
  13. love in the time of cholera / gabriel garcia marquez
  14. the secret garden / frances hodgson burnett
  15. chocolat / joanne harris
  16. the story of edgar sawtelle / david wroblewski
  17. the night circus / erin morgenstern
  18. anne of green gables (series) / l.m. montgomery
  19. midnight in the garden of good and evil / john berendt
  20. the big sleep / raymond chandler
  21. the swiss family robinson / johann d. wyss
  22. on the road / jack kerouac
  23. little women / louisa may alcott
  24. zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance / robert pirsig
  25. beloved / toni morrison
  26. going back to bisbee / richard shelton
  27. the electric kool-aid acid test / tom wolfe
  28. a confederacy of dunces / john kennedy
  29. a good year / peter mayle
  30. seaworthy: adrift with william wallis in the golden age of rafting / t.r. pearson
  31. blood meridian / cormac mccarthy
  32. corelli's mandolin / louis de bernieres
  33. atlas shrugged / ayn rand
  34. heart of darkness / joseph conrad
  35. the little prince / antoine de sainte-exupery
  36. sometimes a great notion / ken kesey
  37. the secret life of bees / sue monk kidd
  38. the once and future king / t.h. white
  39. into thin air / jon krakauer
  40. the life of pi / yann martel
  41. the language of flowers / vanessa diffenbaugh
  42. bella tuscany / frances mayes
  43. harry potter (series) / j.k. rowling
  44. the time it never rained / elmer kelton
  45. the right stuff / tom wolfe
  46. the boxcar children, book 1 / gertrude chandler warner
  47. the orchid thief: a true story of beauty & obsession / susan orlean
  48. a passage to india / e.m. forster
  49. if i never get back / darryl brock
  50. men at work: the craft of baseball / george f. will

my current read is taking me through venice. 
there are gondolas.
where are you?  it's your turn to share.
i'd love to see your list.



the past. still here.

almost gone in yesterday's sunlight, here today in the rain.

outside, across the street, the leftover candy canes, ghosts of christmas past and today's rain, go almost invisible in morning sunshine and afternoon shadows, only there if you squint your eyes hard against the brightness.  but this morning is gray and drizzled with rain and they stand proud against the green of the house, pieces of the past, of last year.  inside, on the television, midnight in paris, man ray, hemingway, picasso.

i'd not expected

 the past.  a sign that says santa was here.

i'd not expected



the past: 

she had a friend with unwritten rules to be followed, like invisible cracks in a sidewalk.  it was inevitable that one day she would step on one.  

the friend will only hint at such, but birthday and christmas cards will stop arriving and the phone will stop ringing, and it will matter not that it wasn't her fault, that it was just one of those things in a year of those things.  the friend will light a match to the bridge that has connected them for 30 years and at first the flames will sputter in her tears of apology, but she will eventually, and surprisingly quickly, stop crying, and let it burn.  she will be surprised at the relief she feels.  

she will stop watching the sidewalk and keep walking.  


i'd thought to stop writing this year, or to write about the things that kept me silent for so much of last year, knowing i would lose friends, but determined to do it nonetheless.  silence is not always golden.   i'd thought i would start immediately if i were to do it, on january 1st, and i'd thought to start with how it felt to be called a racist over and over, how it hurt when people posted terrible things on facebook or twitter, and called people names, how when i questioned such things i was always told i don't mean you, i just mean people who vote like you.  i'd thought to write about the exhaustion of feeling that hatred.  i'd thought to write true and hard things.

then came magic.  once again.  hold out your hands - i've said it for years - and catch the gifts the universe is tossing your way.  last year i closed my hands against the ugly words and i missed too many gifts.  i gave those words, and the people who said them, power.  this year i take that power back.  i open my hands to this keyboard, to pens and pencils and paper, to rain and to sunshine.  i open my hands to magic and truth.  expect both black and white.

“The past stays on you the way powdered sugar stays on your fingers.
Some people can get rid of it but it’s still there,
the events and things that pushed you to where you are now.” 
                   ~~ Erin Morgenstern / The Night Circus



january altar

i have come to like january, the way it shakes rattles and rolls, moving back and forth between not quite winter  winter and damn cold.  friday morning, for example, began dreary, with 30 minutes of sleet, quickly ushered out by cold bright sunshine and followed by a day full of blue skies.  i keep rain boots in the jeep all year long because you just never know, but in january, i also keep an extra jacket, and i keep track of the extra minutes in the days.  january reminds me summer is coming.

if it were a color, it would, i think, be white.  with a silver lining.  the color of beginnings and endings.  i take down the christmas lights, the last leaves fall from the trees.  space is made inside and out.   i see things more clearly.

byron is across the street, smoking.  it's sunday morning early, his 'fro is messy and he's in shorts, sitting in the sun, breathing in the day.  another neighbor passes, cigarette in one hand, dog leash in the other, and she is bundled hard against the cold, sunshine or not.  she & byron exchange waves, he finishes his smoke, and heads back into the house.  there is a silver glittered star still hanging from the ginkgo tree in his yard and the wind is spinning it back & forth, sending twinkles my way.  he will leave the icicle lights up all year, but they will stay off until next december.


or perhaps it would be the white of skye cat's throat, with underneath hints of faded brown and grays. 

prayer painting by miz katie

she was one of my birthday presents - love at first glance.  she sits on a shelf, propped below my empty boathouse painting, and today i am hoping to find a white frame to fit her.  next to her is my mother's wasp nest, sitting silently under its clear glass cloche, and dangled from the top of that cloche is a mother of pearl rosary with a star.  an accidental altar.  there is a mirror to her right, dangling a star or two of its own - one is silver metal, hanging by a piece of pale green velvet ribbon i saved from a christmas present; the other is a smaller star, a gift from years ago, handmade of thin tin, hanging by a wire.  a string of stars, all white, drapes across the cow skull that hangs higher on the wall and there is a white candle on the shelf below the mirror;  a reflection of empty trees and white daylight is in the mirror itself.  i have the front door open, my feet are bare, and there is a fire in the heater.

the streets are sunday silent - it is after church mealtime - and byron has raked the leaves from his yard.  my phone says it is 55°.  this morning's damp sidewalk is now dry and squirrels are everywhere, teasing the cats.  the sky could not be more blue, though the forecast says partly cloudy.  january, less than one week in.



the view from my kitchen sink yesterday morning

half a bottle of champagne, a star, candles, 2 glasses.
the birdhouse the wind blew down.

i raised the blinds and there they were, sitting on my mother's picnic table, making me laugh right out loud.  not an easy before breakfast accomplishment.  i quick took pictures through the window screen while my oatmeal cooked.


later she told me they'd had one of those  days the morning before, she and a friend, and so they'd sat on the back porch, drinking champagne and smoking the blues away with cigarettes, talking the way women do when life requires talking, and she said she'd meant to go back and pick up the bottle, but forgot, and i thought my mother would like that, that our back porch, though interrupted by cold weather, was being used, that her old table was a bit of sanctuary.  we still don't have lights up, but candles are doing the job just fine.



2013 magic. #1.

angel with sputtering raindropped wings

i didn't have snow, but i had sparklers and rain, and i had a girl with red hair, and together we had the first morning of a new year surrounding us. be an angel,  i told her, and we lit her wings.


The Year of Ordinary Magic
as decreed by Kelly Letky and Graciel Evenstar

yesterday i got an invitation to come play.

we are making angels, they said, and you should too, snow or not, and you should spend the rest of the year with your hands held open, catching that magic you always talk about, and sharing it.  it will be fun!!

this is how the universe works when it's happy.

i didn't choose a word this year.  i'd toyed with the idea of choosing a color, maybe a different color each month, but even that felt too binding, too constricting, when i wanted to just feel free, and really, i am just exhausted with rules and how-to-do-thises-and-thats; on pinterest, i'd even seen a list of guidelines for being a free spirit, which is seriously just the saddest funny thing ever.  and then, the invitation.

we will play all year.  we will talk about the everyday ordinary magic that surrounds us - leaves shaped like arrows pointing us down the right road, the feather of a mockingbird floating through a foggy morning - or we'll show you, or we'll do both, and we'd like you to join us.  whenever you want, however you want.  just look for the ordinary magic and share.  we'd love to see.

(details here and here.)