“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


walking after midnight

the day after the day after christmas.
morning rain, gray skies.
this table by the front door.
waiting quietly for the new year to arrive, the old year to slip out the back, jack.

i was awake early enough to chase the cold morning fog - it moved quickly and was soon rain and i scurried back into the house, slipsliding inside the door, barely catching myself before falling.  the breeze-sometimes-wind and laundry kept me inside until mid-afternoon; i should clean, i told myself, should vacuum, should put away these candles, but mostly i read, and in the end decided i would keep them out until the new year tapped on the windows and said hello.  the house is ready and waiting.

i walked the dark sidewalks last night, zigzagging, following the christmas lights, letting them lead me where they would.  it was cold, the morning breeze by then a true nighttime wind, and all the lights looked like magic from far away, less so up close, but calling me nonetheless.  the cold stopped my thoughts and i just walked.  walking late, the sounds draw you - the slamming of car doors, the hooting of owls, a knock on a door, voices drifting as the door opens, gone when it closes.  the scruffling of leaves as your boots scooch through them, the fragile skittering sound they make when the wind grabs them and sends them flying.  a siren in the distance.

i listened without thinking, hands warm in my pockets, the milky sky overhead.


the day after christmas, katie and i in the jeep, backtracking behind businesses to avoid the traffic.  a young deer crossed the city street in front of us, another doe waiting on the other side.  katie wished them luck on their journey.  



morning, christmas eve day

gifts all wrapped, wind blowing cold, sun shining brighter as the day moves forward.  last night was the calling of owls and the flying of leaves and the laughter of friends.  the cat in front of the fire, a book about fairies, and finally, finally, the feeling of christmas.  the advent tree still stands, limbs all akimbo, but as of yesterday swathed in warm silver and more christmas cards, stars and hearts, brown paper loop-de-loops like we used to make in elementary school.  one of the limbs hangs over my head as i type these words, holding tight to a small glass ornament.  the cat stares at every shimmer it shimmies, and i am surprised it survived the night.

i like the idea of tree-at-the-last minute, the way it was in old back and white movies, and in the books i read as a child, ornaments and tinsel hung on christmas eve, angels getting their wings.  i like not thinking about it all the way from thanksgiving.  i'm not too old to change a habit or two, to instead begin to think about it when december rolls its way into the 20s - maybe the 21st or 22nd. yesterday i told the cat to expect something different every year.

but today?  a continuation from fall, leaves and lights, a continuation into next year.  late tonight, silence and church bells.  always, your days merry and bright.

merry christmas and happy holidays!



dark and light and wings and winter

first day of winter, 2014.

a glittery antique bird i've had forever, a lazy sad holiday time, the advent tree still the only tree i have.  i've been hanging small christmas cards on the limbs and standing the bigger ones on the table surrounding it, and i barely adjusted the wire on this bird when i settled it into place, just turning it so it has a view.


today is the last day of too much darkness.  it's chilly and gray and fits my holiday mood.  across the street, part of a tree has fallen.  the leaves are wet and brown, still not raked, and winter is here.  the year is almost gone.

this sunday morning is quiet, all the christmas lights (less and less each year) in the neighborhood gone silent.  as i type that, jingle bell cat jumps from the creek, white fur against the dreary day.  light against dark.  a sign, i think. he comes to the door, stares a hello at me, and wanders off, back to his house or my back porch.  it's all the same to him, all his.


love is not all you need, not the answer to everything, never yet in the history of the planet the answer to wars and terror, but you need it all the same.  the same with light.  tomorrow the day will be longer.  this year i missed birthdays and i didn't send christmas cards, but i bought soft light for a friend and it hangs beautifully against the night.  i (once again) have plans for new year's cards.  the green table next to my door is full of candles, all white, all sizes, waiting for the evening.  first, a walk, then the light.



advent evening, day 14. last night.

last night, pre-darkness.
i looked up to watch the beginnings of a rainstorm blow in,
and liked the way the power line hung across the sky, forming a new horizon.  

i walked just within our block, stopped and talked to a neighbor until the raindrops scurried us inside. the neighbors across the street plugged in their christmas lights, the sweetest single strands around windows, pastels and the warmest of whites all golden and peaceful, like a perfectly dressed woman who's removed that one necklace or ring that said too loud, too much.  i sat on the couch, door open, rain drizzling across the leaves on the ground, the sound of wind blowing past, rustling limbs, skipping those leaves like stones across a still lake.  i exhaled, drinking in the peace of those lights and the night. it felt like christmas eve.

i feel like a boat on the image above,
floating slowly across the calm part of the sky.   



december table for one

a corner of the house.
broken camera,
broken tulip saved from the bigger bouquet.
lunchtime. yesterday.  

this morning, fog and muffled birdsong.
later, warmth, and tonight, candlelight.  

i forget christmas is out there, waving to me from further down the calendar.  i wave back when i remember, happy to wait. i have plenty of wrapping paper.



this year's christmas tree

a personal advent poem built from things found or forgotten,
from fallen limbs and words and memories and wishes.
from what was and what will be. 
a continuation.
a ritual.
a saying goodbye and a saying hello.  

i dreamed of a hallway, long, with many doorways, the doors removed, propped against the empty walls, painted in the softest of colors, old, faded.  the dream faded also, coming back to me later in the day, reminding me of my movement past the open rooms, my glances left and right, leaves blowing past my feet, the wind behind me. before me, a rectangle of daylight.  another missing door. it seemed perfect, and in the way of dreams, the rectangle changed to darkness, moonlight spilling onto the floor.  no doubt the almost full moon of two nights ago waking me only slightly, pushing its way into that hallway.

what i know is that it will be a painting.  what i know is that closing doors accomplishes little.  if once i thought otherwise, i have changed my mind.  that hallway is my life.  i walk past those rooms of yesterday, piled full of memories i pretend i've tossed.  i glance into them daily.  sometimes i quickly move on, other times i stand at the doorway and smile.  sometimes i drop to the floor and cry myself to sleep, one hand over the chipped paint of the doorsill.  what i know is that if the doors were still there, if they were closed and locked, i would think through them anyway and the memories would be too big or too small.

the hall is longer behind me, from back there where the wind comes from, and the open rooms ahead are still empty, still waiting to be filled.  some things will appear on purpose, my own doings, but some things will surprise me, both good and bad.  there is so much i can't control, but there are places to store it all.  some rooms are small, with windows, and some are too large, bathed in darkness.  some rooms, however, are just right.


a birthday candle for the christmas tree.
inspired by a friend.
a light against the darkness for only a moment before i blew it out and made a wish.  



advent day 2, a day late

yesterday's image.
the true colors of not yet christmas, daring you to trip over them.

yesterday i did, if only metaphorically, and was in bed by 9. the day had been noisy and bright and i needed quiet and soft light. i gifted myself with both, and a read before sleep overtook me.  this morning i begin again.



in which we have wind. advent: day 1

never mind that there is only one falling leaf right here - in real life there are thousands.  there are patches of green where the lawn is left bare, the wind sweeping the leaves into deep piles, only to scatter them again.  never mind that it is the end of november - it is warm.  ish.  the sky is gray and the trees undressing - through empty branches, i can once again see the church steeple down the street.  the doors and windows are open and the sound of autumn rushes through the house.  it is the first day of advent.  four sundays, four weeks, and four days until christmas.  let us begin with the wind, and try to look forward more than we look behind us.  there is a path we must make, a new one, once again and always.

i feel a sudden need for less color.  this feeling comes and goes in my life, this year especially, this time especially, the leaves across the ground, in the air, still hanging to leaves, all the color i want. it will change, i think, when the leaves are gone and the cold settles in, but for now?  only softness will do.  the faded colors of real life.  yesterday i took down the big painting in my living room, leaving the wall bare, taupe, against the white of the couch.  i like the space it brings to the daylight, the way the lamplight reflects in the evening.  the color of empty, ready to be filled, not knowing it is full already, not knowing it will spill over.

across the street byron begins to rake.  the leaves are to his knees and i know he must feel it is useless to try, but not only will he try, he'll succeed.  i've watched him for years.  by the end of the day there will be bags of leaves sitting curbside, by tomorrow it will look as if he's done nothing.  


when i step outside, the cat follows.
i quickly lose her to the background of autumn.



this water lives in mombasa, anyway, and following the yellow brick road

the roads move like rivers where i live.

it took all day to entice me outside;
when the last of the light began to glow on the bricks i was called.

it was small rain yesterday, from morning to night, and it was small when i stood beneath it; all the best magic is small. there'd been hard news in the morning, news i'd sat with through tv movies and laundry, letting it sink in, shedding no tears.  i stepped into the rain and all that changed.  i began to cry.

road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places . . .
river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater,
flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river . . .

we move forward always, even if we turn around. time clicks into the future no matter which way we face.  new places await.  the late mary, she of once upon a time across the street, told me when times were bad, she imagined herself on a river, floating.  face to the sky.  giving herself to the flow.  the river moves anyway, she told me.


(road and river definitions from wikipedia)


the days go quiet

the days are dropping one by one from the limbs of this year,
going pale and then gone forever into the past, never to be seen again.
their memories stay but they are only that,
their colors brighter than the truths,
their sounds quieter, their whispers almost too loud.

it's the ache in my arms and the hurt in my wrists that remind me,
the still painful twist of my ankle from all the turning aways.

this coming season says soft,
tells me that christmas will be full of silent nights
and small gifts.
that cleaning the house takes second place to family and friends;
that the lights will be low and the tree will be hushed.

i will run late and not worry.
i will turn the volume down to one
and ignore the red bars that urge me to turn it back up.



autumn winter november sunday

sunday real life with rain and cold and broken camera in hand.
my neighbor's tree.
he was sitting in his car, warming it up for a donut run;
i just tapped on his window and pointed at the tree.
he knew.


i don't have the magic to make the outside warmer.  i open the door a few inches, enough for the cat to get through, but she just stands there and looks at me, then meows and walks away, headed for her spot in front of the fire, looking back at me over her shoulder as if i've failed her on some deep mama emotional level.  it is only when i step outside that she chances it also, texas cat that she is.  she followed me out this morning and when i glanced back over my shoulder from across the street, she was full of kitten, on her tiptoes, skittering sideways around the yard, but then fast back into the house when i returned.

the cold is here.  serious autumn feels like winter.  magnolia leaves drop to the ground, fluttering in the wind like fallen birds, and the camellia tree in the backyard next door is covered in white blossoms - at a glance it looks like snow. the tree on the corner has leaves that go red for a few hours and then brown.  a short envelope of time to catch them.  all the trees that drop their leaves are doing so, some more slowly than others, still changing colors, only letting go when the wind pushes hard against them.  but, in the continuation of seasons, we still have honeysuckle blossoms and birdsong greeted me when i woke.  everything smooshes together.  the calendar is, after all, man-made.




put the iPod away and pay attention to your surroundings

when it was summer.

stripes on her ankles.
toe rings. 
nail polish. 
humidity, mosquitoes, rivers and rain. 
not my image, not my feet,
though i willingly accept the blame or credit for the photoshop juju. 
i heard through the grapevine that she had fun, fun, fun, and wants to go back.
i could see it in her feet and asked to borrow the image.

3000 acres and almost no people.  sometimes phone service, sometimes not.  911 is a long way away. bears have been encountered and wild horses have a habit of showing up on the cabin's lawn.  you are as on your own as the cat and kittens who've made their home in a fallen down barn somewhere on the property.  the dogs who show up now and then are called ugly and uglier, though neither is. if the weather grows suddenly cold and you are unprepared, it means a drive to the nearest town for jackets and jeans.

if you break down, it's up to you to fix it.


i wrote this 4 months ago.
there are now puppies under the porch and temperatures in the 20s.
everything changes.
nothing changes.

(title via this article.)



truths and not truths on the end of october

the homeless man sat down in the front room of the business yesterday, neverminding that my hands were full of photographs and the clock was ticking away fast to a deadline, telling me lies and truths, asking for money in exchange.  a fair deal if the stories are good enough, i think.  his were full of navajo code talkers and weren't new, though he had changed them up a bit from the last time we'd heard them in a downtown cafe.  perhaps he'd been perfecting them, editing them under the texas stars.  he said he slept on a flatbed truck a mexican family was loaning him the use of every night, and at last he shuffled off down the street, needing tarp in case it rained, he said, glad for a new sleeping bag he'd picked up somewhere.

almost november and the wind is up outside, the cold is coming, and there is a first quarter moon in the sky.  we gain an hour this weekend, an hour of darkness leading us closer to winter.  i  imagine it with a lantern in its hand, guiding the way, shushing me when i talk too loud.  i'm not ready, but i follow along.



hiding places and small stories

this year's pumpkin is smaller than last year's.  i thought at first less boastful, quieter, a bit more shy, but then i tossed a garland made of left over paper edges across the back of its chair, and thought perhaps not.  perhaps just a bit more more sly.  the queen of her own parade.


i worry, you know, that i should have more - i've said it before, and i say it to myself all the time, that i should have something to teach, something to tell you that's deep and wise, but this week changed my mind.  this once again awful, sad, heartbreaking week in the world, when i found myself burrowing deeper into books that comforted me, books offering nothing more than just a good story. i swallowed the words like warm tea, like cherry flavored medicine, as if my mother were there, reading me a bedtime story.  it was late friday afternoon - i can pinpoint the moment - when i felt the shift in my soul, when i knew without a doubt those were the stories i want to share here. stories small enough to tuck into christmas stockings.  i have nothing to teach, but i have more than enough to share.  until that moment on friday afternoon, i couldn't have said that with absolute sureness, but then, there was that moment, the news on the radio in michael's office drifting into my office, and i knew it was enough.

the year is continuing to move by so fast, november now just a heartbeat away.  i feel as if i've been tied to its coattails, flying in the wind.  a piece of that garland in the picture above.  i already know my word for next year - movement.  that's how sure i am of myself, of the rightness of this.  it may not be much of a shift in the stories, but it's a shift in the storyteller, and who knows where that will lead?  i am still navigating, still finding new paths. months ago i lost the back to an earring, one that belonged to a pair of diamond studs michael gave me the year my father died.  gold.  shiny.  i thought it would be easy to find.  i shined flashlights and looked and looked and wore my bare feet across the carpet, but it was gone.  until yesterday.  i looked down and there it was.


today is warm and full of sunshine.  i look outside at the bigger scatter of leaves outside the door and see that autumn is a bit more serious about showing up, but then remind myself that though the ginkgo across the street has gone all yellow, the big one on the corner is still green.  this morning the shadow of a hawk fell across the grass, silencing the birds - i tried to find it in the trees, but they are still good hiding places, and i never did.  



somerset life and sunday morning

keeping my toes warm.

i'm once again in its beautiful pages, toes and all.  so is this place i call home.  so is the lovely, lovely katie in a fabulous yellow dress.  when michael saw her picture, he asked if that wasn't his old fishing hat she was wearing. ummm . . . yes.  yes, it is.  i stole it from him sometime last year when he bought a new one, when he said the old one was too worn out.  i thought it was getting just about right.


i've been running a slight fever, an autumn ritual for me, all allergies and sneezes, and have done nothing the last few days.  it comes and goes, and i do the same - to work and home, staying caught up on everything except cleaning the house.  i read, buy groceries when i run out of cat food, do the laundry when i have nothing left to wear, read some more, watch football on the television, read some more, sneeze a lot, sleep not enough.  i've not been writing, not much, just a word here and there, saving them up for a sentence later.  the sun is warm, the temperature cool.  the breezes blow in all that stuff that makes my eyes water and my sneezes sneeze, but i leave the door open anyway.  i don't think it makes a difference, in fact think it maybe helps.

sunday barely after noon and the neighborhood is full of barking dogs and dozy cats.  leaves skittering down the street, the songs of birds everywhere.  the shadows of leaves shake in the wind and butterflies flutter by.  the grass is still green and ditto the trees.  the ginkgo across the street has lightened to a pale green, and also the tops of some trees i can see in the distance.  east texas autumn.


full of good stuff.
i am honored to be featured and i thank everyone involved.
available online or at bookstores.  



saturday morning with rain and daisies


i begin collecting broken twigs from the yard, blown down by every storm that passes through. by december there will be enough of them to glitter, just the tops, just enough to reflect candlelight.  i am such a girl.


it feels like the year is almost over.  it may be a baseball thing, my annual circadian rhythm set to that season. still a bit to go, but not far, not long.  i will catch my second wind then and the rest of the year will push me in the direction of thanksgiving, of christmas, of the new year soon to come.  last weekend was the weekend of books and solace, of no news and comfort movies.  kelly suggested pride and prejudice and when i checked out the library's only copy, the librarian sighed.  my favorite movie, she said.  she is such a girl.  i bought flowers and slept later in the mornings and it was too quickly gone and suddenly monday.

and now suddenly saturday once again.  early afternoon and i am thinking mexican food for lunch. salsa and chips, garlic and chicken.  enough to last until tomorrow.  i want more nothingness and less too-much-ness.  i am such a girl.



the night before the weekend

wasn't it just september?

the cat and i climb the outside stairs up all 3 floors and i sit on cold metal and pieces of pecan shells the squirrels have tossed, and the cat purrs loudly, happy to be up this high with me. we are almost in the trees and no one sees us, not even the stars.  the night is quiet and we have a bit of candlelight, but not enough to disturb the darkness. not enough to bother the owls.  we go quiet with the darkness.  i tell secrets only to her and no words are necessary.



once upon a time, there was a wedding

i didn't take a camera, but then there was this song, and the night was falling, so when the bride began to dance by herself, i borrowed a cousin's new iPhone which i didn't know how to use, and just clicked away anyway. it's about the moments, i told myself.  it's about that swirl of a white dress that might be a bride, dancing, or maybe a flower, blooming.  perhaps the september moon in a sky aswirl with stars.  possibly all of the above.

it was the perfectest of weddings - a white horse drawn carriage, a lake catching the sunset, fireworks in the darkened night sky.  a couple so in love you could feel it when you got close.  and family, family, family.  a cousin helping his youngest daughter down the aisle, she the shy flower girl who had to think a minute or two about tossing those petals, though not so shy when the dancing began. another cousin performing the ceremony.  friends who count as family.  the bride's young daughter walked her mother down the aisle, in a matching white dress and bare feet and flowers in her hair. there was laughter and there were tears, and then there was dancing.

no matter your age, you were on the dance floor.  no matter if you didn't know the song, you were on the dance floor.  no matter if you had no partner, you were on the dance floor.  and the bride?  who had a partner, who'd slow danced that first dance of the rest of her life with him, didn't stop.  she danced with young cousins, and cousins her age, and uncles and, as i said earlier, even by herself.


when i got home, i tweeted
hermit though i be, i danced the night away under wedding stars and fireworks, and i say to you that it is the cure for whatever ails you.

and it is.  i meant it.  truth.



katie leaves her christmas lights up all year long because this

it's all curves and curls on that side of that house - spiral staircase, sidewalk curving past it, leaves and limbs and climbing vines.  in the darkness i move to the back yard, the leaves just a kiss or two above my head, bathed in the red of those lights.  the cat chases me, climbing the stairs and down again, hiding in the tall grass, pouncing at me when i pass her again.


autumn showed up this morning on cool breezes, her skirt flying up in the air, not a bit of shyness in her bones, teasing, hiding, flashing one lovely leg at a time from behind a tree still flush with green leaves.  tonight she is sexy sly, slow dancing, a glass of something red in her hands.  the cicadas are mostly gone, and the evening fills with different sounds. the cat comes in without an argument and curls on the couch, almost asleep.




sunday almost autumn

day softens into night and back again.

fall is just about here, which means it is warm enough to sit outside all day, but also cool enough to do so.  night falls early and confuses you.  you blink twice and the skies are darkening.

yesterday was a friend's house in the country with 3 dogs, one gone totally blind in her old age, but who nevertheless rolled in the happy spot of sunshine she followed around the yard.  it was a lot of talk about art and photography and new orleans, and it was walking barefoot to get more beer from the neighbor down the road.  it was water with lemon for me, and it was hours of laughter, and suddenly it was almost night.  i'd not meant to stay that long, but there were no mosquitoes, and the afternoon just slipped away.

this dragonfly was waiting to say goodbye, and there was a discussion about taking its picture, the photographer/friend shooting it against the open sky, me wanting the mood of the day in the picture. he thought a bit of background would interfere with the dragonfly's wings, seemed surprised i thought not, seemed surprised i wanted something besides those wings in the picture, but i knew the moment was the picture.  funny how that is.  i am so much less interested in the exactness and perfection of things, so much more about what the day has to say. i love the out of focusness of that one side of wings, blending into the sky and treetops, summer into fall, day into night, and despite me telling him i would photoshop it soft if needed, i knew i wouldn't need it.

and i didn't.  



stories from a broken camera. #1

early morning fog. semi-broken camera.

the path leads this way,
through fairy tales and what have yous. 
no point in getting upset when the man says it's not worth fixing.  
if it will take a picture, i will take a picture,
will follow this path and see what it teaches.  what gifts it brings.

this morning felt like,
what was it aragorn said?,
i'd strayed into a dream.
to be awakened by the meows of a cat,
she who'd followed me down the road.
almost cheshire, blending into the beginning of the day.

i like it already, one day in.



the morning after saturday night's rain

flowers in the street.
autumn is coming.

there's always the moment when you know.  when the wind and rain shake blooms from the trees and knock them from their homes in flower beds,  when the morning breeze feels different, as it does today.  i slept through last night's full moon, never minding the light filling my bedroom.  i never do that, even when i'm exhausted, but last night i did, and it was a good sleep.  perhaps the moonlight sang me to sleep.  moon as mother.

september usually moves slowly into autumn, and even at that slowness, i am usually sad to see it do so - i cling to summer with every ounce of my being.  perhaps my being weighs less this year, or perhaps i've finally learned what will be will be, or perhaps, maybe maybe, i am okay with autumn. perhaps we are learning to be friends.

it's warm still, in the mid 90s today, but then will begin to drop.  the sound of the wind this morning is cool, the trees and grasses moving in the come and go sunshine.

i have no story, but something feels changed.
me, the season - it's hard to tell.
i like the way this morning's one singing bird sounds.
this past weekend a dragonfly hit my windshield and it sounded like silver.
the bird this morning sounds like a diamond.



and we have a winner: Bella Grace

we step from august to september.
and we have a winner.


thank you to everyone who commented, who told me some of their sweet nothings. every day - every day - it made me smile to read your thoughts and happinesses. it's been such a fun week. i've felt a connection with each and every one of you.  i've visited many new blogs and found new friends and rediscovered old friends.  thank you once again so much.

and remember - 
keep holding out your hands to catch the everyday magic that is always there.

my neighbor's granddaughter came by to sell me some kind of school fund raiser thing and i negotiated a deal - if she would draw the winner's name from the bowl i held out before her, i would buy coupons.  i'm sure she thought i was crazy, sure she was thinking that most people just say yes and hand her money, or no and close the door.  but she smiled a shy smile and said yes and drew out a name.

the winner is deb from deb posted from home.  i just took a tour of her blog and she has fun news of her own -  i recommend paying her a visit.  i know i'll be back.  in the meantime, deb, i'll be getting in touch with you and we'll work out shipping details.  congratulations!  the magazine and the print of my painting will soon be on their way to you.

again - thank you all.  you made me happy.  i want to say you were the small nothings of my week, but you were more than that.  you were magic - all of you.

in the meantime, don't forget you can enter more giveaways (this blog hop ain't over yet), by keeping up with who's on first and who's next and who's still accepting entries, with the Bella Grace blog hop link.  Right here.



august rain

suddenly rain on a friday evening before a long weekend, and i feel my muscles loosen all at once. obligations slip away and my heart rate slows. never mind that my long weekend started this morning - there is just something about this rain that gives me permission to do nothing, and never mind that i am a woman who needs no permission given.  

the cat is asleep, sitting on the bathroom window sill, window open, screen rolled up, rain just inches away. the song of cicadas encircles the house. we are home.



Sweet Nothings - A Bella Grace Giveaway

i've said for years that the universe tosses you gifts daily, that you just have to hold out your hands and catch them.  most of those gifts are overlooked moments; we get busy or tired and we just miss them. we expect them to be big and wrapped in silver paper, a red bow on top, and i'm as guilty as everyone else; i get lazy and don't want to peek into the shadows or even under my pillow, but that's where they live, these gifts.  the sweet nothings of the everyday.


the first day you spy cherries at the grocery store.
ditto clementines.
sweet sweet ordinary magic.
both days.

full moons.
crescent moons.
all the moons in between, even the ones on stormy nights, hiding behind nighttime clouds.
magic, each and every one of them, without costing you a dime.

outside tonight is hot and still,
and as always i have a door open and bare feet propped in front of the fan.
that cool air is a sweet nothing.
a small magic.
just ask my toes.

ordinary magic comes with good times and it comes with the hard. when my mother was dying, i mentioned on this blog that my phone never stopped ringing with bad news, or with relatives checking in, and suddenly into my open hand a gift was dropped - an online friend began to call every day and leave a voice mail for me, the small and ordinary stories of her day.  sweet nothings to which i never had to respond.  another online friend messaged if i needed anything, she was only 3 hours away.  another gift.  more small magic.

heart shaped leaves and newly painted walls, white linens, lazy pink tulips.
the flight of owls through the darkness. crows on fence posts. early morning robins.
dark chocolate. well done steaks.
back porches and candlelight and friendships with no need for conversation.
gifts, each and every one.  ordinary magics.
just hold out your hand and catch them.

movies watched for the hundredth time, books falling apart for the very same reason.
stripes and polka dots and pale blue cotton.
campfires. starlight. cowboy boots.
cello music.
the sound of sleet against the windows.
fallen flower petals.
granny smith apples and auld lang syne.

it's about building your life where you are.  it's about at last using the tablecloth you bought on that trip to florida, the one that said ignore the winter cold, take me - the one you've never used no matter how much you love it, the color saying summersummersummer ocean beach heat.  it's new shoes and old shoes and pink rainboots that keep your feet dry when the creek overflows and you are knee high in water fast flooding your yard.  even the almost annual flooding becomes a magic.  an adventure. will the house flood or won't it?  no matter.  watching the creek rise brings a smile to your face. mother nature kicking up her heels.


And now Bella Grace.  A new magazine by Stampington that believes in all those things, embraces all those things and magics and moments and sweet nothings.  It is unlike any ordinary magazine you've seen before: ½" thick, full of images and poetry and stories and interactive spaces and places.  I am honored to be a part of this new venture, celebrating life and adventure and the magic in the ordinary, and honored to be among many of my favorite writers and photographers. As part of the Bella Grace blog hop/magazine giveaway, I've been given a copy to give away to one of you. Just leave a comment below - I'd love if you told me one of your sweet nothings, but it's not required.  With the magazine, I'm also including a canvas print of that painting up at the top, in the hopes it will remind you to just open your hands and catch that everyday magic.

Remember, just whisper a sweet nothing in my ear down below in the comments.
I'll draw a name on Sunday, August 31, and announce the winner on Monday, September 1.

You can keep up with the blog hop,
with even more magazine giveaways, and wonderful people to meet,
with this link right here.
Stampington will be updating the page daily.

above painting: when emma still believed in magic / d smith kaich jones
flood image: robert langham



saturday morning with summer

the downward part of summer is here, the august light blasting. harsh.  every flaw in the landscape is magnified all the way till the stars come out.  it is at last hot hot hot, a month still to go before autumn arrives.  breezes blow and it is even hotter.  the birds this morning are silent, but the rose of sharon trees are full of bees and draw me near, pull me in.

a reader tells me that where she lives "all august it has been october".  we have only been august, and even then, only now.  we may reach 100° by tomorrow, and if so, it will be our first.  summer comes late this year.  we may not reach october until the end of the year, our seasons sliding slowly one into another.  i am already planning - there will be a pumpkin under the christmas tree.



barefoot with the tv off

the open door, the outside, the spinning of the world.

i searched for christmas novels yesterday, wanting something with snow and angels and silent nights, with candlelight and old fashioned trees, a house in the woods or maybe city streets draped with lights, people on the sidewalks, their arms piled high with packages wrapped in red. carols in the background. comfort and cocoa and the smells of cinnamon and peppermint. i ended up with something; i don't remember the title, only that it is something to take me away from the real world outside the door.



"what is balance?" she asked.

"a magician’s trick," i answered.
"an illusion.
a dove in the hat.
the umbrella held by the tightrope walker."  



where i come from

we are made of the place that birthed us, and all the places that held us close when nights were cold. we are made of stars, yes, but also the inhaled dust of all the roads we drove with the windows down. there is dirt under our fingernails that will be there forever.  to think otherwise is to still be young.

my grandfather and my youngest brother, years ago. shooting copperheads.

a cousin says blood doesn't run in our veins.
it pulsates with cherokee holy roller.


this morning is heading into a warm day, and i will be off and onto country roads, camera in hand, scribbled words in a notebook next to me.  i am lately more a writer than usual, lately melting into the texas days with ink and paper.  i am made of this place, and the stories it tells me.

suddenly - cicadas.
the sound that rocked me to sleep as a child sends me off into the day.



if you stand still long enough, you'll grow wings

the imperfections of summer.

the torn carpet, the chipped toenail polish,
the pound cake you have for breakfast leaving crumbs you won't find until night.
my god, the laziness and books and sunshine and no shoes needed.
your hair pulled up in a ponytail that always leans to the left.  

it does not get any better.




july left us on the sound of cicadas, on wet leaves and grass, on a night cooler than any summer evening i can remember. the same stage on which august made its entrance. sixty something degrees this morning, cloudy, damp. an old friend is visiting from out of state, and the heat he was expecting isn't here. i don't think he's disappointed.

i see the months in my mind, in the room where they live when they're not on duty. i see july shaking herself off as she comes through the door, rain flying everywhere, needing a warm shower, a cup of coffee with a bit of something stronger to help her relax. august is already out the door, rolling his eyes at her as he sees the mess she's left him - limbs down, the tall grass wet against his knees. he's not in a good mood, i'm afraid, and i hope he doesn't take it out on us. perhaps october will loan him a jacket.


i've been calling august "put the lime in the coconut" month. there are so many places to play. susannah conway's august break, august prompts in several places, leftover prompts still unfinished, hundreds of partial blogposts ditto. i feel a bit of desperation - less than a month until the business busies up again, another summer with no time off, the beginning of the end of three day weekends. i have no idea what you will see here, although there will be a surprise or two. i am playing harder with photoshop, freeing up my writing, throwing caution aside. today we start with a sleeping cat. when in doubt, post a cat.

she is sleeping to the sound of cajun music and the whoosh of cars going by. the television is on, sound off, news of diseases and war scrawling across the screen. the house i've been trying to organize since sometime in june is almost organized - i have been interrupted by books all summer. katie passes the open front door, dressed in white and taupe, with pink rain boots, and i hear her say oh my god, it just feels so divine. she is right - it does. all of it. the coolness, the messiness, the smell of rain. even the humidity.


yesterday evening, the humidity lurked outside the door, sweating against the glass and the skin of neighbors walking their evening walks. they moved slower, more loosely through the fading light. never mind that it was cool - humidity trumps temperature always. it felt like louisiana, closer to us than dallas, felt like it was spilling over the state line. perhaps that explains this morning's cajun music.



the outskirts of women and would be badasses

the sidewalk was less hot in the shade
and there was the shadow of a heart dangling over my feet.  

it's almost august and though the past weekend was hot, early afternoon wednesday we were barely in the 80s. a gift we happily take. i pondered whether it was too-cool-for-lake weather, wondered if the sun would keep the water comfortable, decided it didn't matter. summer is about melting into whatever the day brings. letting the sun or shadows or water cover you and float. continuing the movement. closing your eyes. becoming.

it had been a hard few days. my arms ached from punches not thrown and words not typed. from gripping the steering wheel too tightly even though i'd vowed i would stop that. from driving night roads when i should have been sleeping. what else can you do when you can do nothing? when what power you once thought you had falls from your hands when you're not looking and disappears? it gone. i watched from a distance, wanting to stay out there in that spot, but the world moves you forward sun to moon and suddenly the distance is behind you, and there you stand. you cannot give up. leave that to the others.


i hate the words badass, warrior, goddess, wild-woman, all those words we give ourselves for no other reason than to think we are. hate not the words really, but the way we use them. we label ourselves and believe the labels make us so. but late yesterday, i was all of the above. i cannot tell you the story - it is someone else's to tell, but i can tell you this.

from my facebook page:
i hate the words badass, goddess, outlaw, wild woman, yada, yada, yada, but tonight? tonight i AM a BADASS GODDESS WARRIOR OUTLAW, because when others gave up, lost hope, had no faith, I kept going, and friends, pass around the collection plate, because I performed a miracle called not giving up. I am mosquito bit humid happy. if i could give you the details I would, but the miracle belonged to someone else, someone i had to holler out of his house to come and take it - it had his name on it. he can sleep tonight with sweet dreams.

by yesterday evening, by late afternoon, never minding that i couldn't see or even feel my lost power, driving on faith and gasoline, i was into my jeep once again, looking once again for that lost something, retracing old roads and driving new ones. and there it was. waiting for me to find it. i could feel sparks coming off my skin, and a happiness i haven't felt in years. a joy beyond contentment. i was full of cell deep laughter. come night, i couldn't sleep. i'd thought i would, but i was up late, refusing to fight the continued joy inside. i was jumping around punching the air. take that, world, take that!  i thought of the word tribe. another word i hated, i was sure. on facebook, i posted a quote by steven pressfield about tribes, via polaroids and thoughts, then took it down.

The amateur dreads becoming who she really is because she fears that this new person will be judged by others as “different.” The tribe will declare us “weird” or “queer” or “crazy.” The tribe will reject us. Here’s the truth: the tribe doesn’t give a shit. There is no tribe. That gang or posse that we imagine is sustaining us by the bonds we share is in fact a conglomeration of individuals who are just as fucked up as we are and just as terrified. Each individual is so caught up in his own bullshit that he doesn’t have two seconds to worry about yours or mine, or to reject or diminish us because of it. When we truly understand that the tribe doesn’t give a damn, we’re free. There is no tribe, and there never was. Our lives are entirely up to us. 

i removed that quote because i have cherokee ancestors at my back, but i don't totally disagree. what i know is that tribes come free and it takes a lifetime to build them. i am not in the tribe of writers. i am not in the tribe of women.

i flutter on
the outskirts of women,
more moth than butterfly.
born in silk
night flying, wings wide open
called by small lights and the moon.


this morning is rain and the air still cool.
my toes are cold and i am goosebumpy. 
and 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 . 



you just slip out the back, jack

sometimes in the mornings, there are black moths waiting in a row across the top of my white bathroom curtains, settled next to each other close to the new day's sun, caught indoors the night before when i closed the doors and closed the windows and shushed the lights.  i open the window and they are gone.  disappeared before my very eyes.

the art of leaving.



sunday girly sunday

my grandmother's trunk and an old sheet tossed over a small stack of blankets.
the cat likes to sleep there.

today is jeans with a faded tshirt, fingernails broken, toenails painted.  no mascara, no eyeliner, but yes to a bit of lipgloss.  more gray and silver in my hair and even a bit of white now mixed into the brown.  pearls around my wrist.  mexican food with my brother and his family for lunch; he noticed the table next to us, a one dollar tip left by two women.  perhaps the waitress deserved no more, perhaps the women had no more to leave.  but it was sunday lunchtime busy and i had a couple of bucks in my pocket.  i tossed them over to the table before the waitress returned. sunday, i said. tithing. and we all laughed.

out of church tithing was an accidental lesson my mother taught me.
it's the small things that stay with you. 



july song

a quarter past eight, 90 degrees.  cooler than yesterday.  the sun has dropped behind the trees on the hill, striping my living room with the softness of day's last light.  the cicadas start their summertime song, a goodbye to the day, a welcome to the night, never mind that true night is still an hour or so away. it is coming, and that is good enough for a song.

i have had the door open all day, ignoring the air conditioning bill that will come.
closed doors are for wintertime.



four days

a moment of rain and deliberate unfocusness.

awakened by thunder, blue skies overhead, gray skies off thataway, and rain like christmas tree icicles, falling strings of silver lit by morning sunlight.  and then, just like that, gone, replaced by the sounds of birds and distant sirens.  july 3.

fireworks, cicadas, but also mosquitoes.  i'd chased a crow through my dreams that morning, through a storm of gray and green, shallow depth of field, the crow in focus, but little else. it stood on the limbs of trees bent by hard winds, watching me follow, leading me on, knowing i wouldn't escape the storm without saving it.  knowing i couldn't, knowing i needn't try.  i'd tossed the cat into a car from my childhood, and pushed my mother behind the steering wheel, but i couldn't go back to them empty handed. the crow was my compass. i was frantic, crying, led on by the bird's arrogance, and then the thunder woke me.  i don't think it means anything.


i've been reading still, rolling my eyes at the author who complained it took her a whole month to recuperate from teaching nine months, complaining that that only left her with two months of vacation. she should know better than to say things like that out loud. in fact, it stopped my reading of her book, though only temporarily - i'll be back, but i needed a bit of summer fiction after that.

i've been writing also, slogging through words as if they really matter. it is messy hard work; some days all i do is wipe the mud off my feet before coming in, leaving all the words outside, to skitter away back from whence they came - i see their tracks across the next morning's concrete, back into the wild.  escape.  how fabulous that must feel.


friday was movies - all day and all of the night.  yesterday, the lake.  a new pink swimsuit.  chips, salsa, boats.  cuban music, the same two songs over and over in the jeep on the way home.  today, clementines.  lord of the rings.  one orange day lily perfectly centered against the hackberry tree. sunshine. the cat asleep in my tshirt drawer. open doors and a bed with freshly laundered sheets.

no vacation in years and years, but there are all those things.
all of them.  



everyday sunday. summer, day 8. throwing out the past.

i wasn't going to post a word today, but suddenly i looked up from the book i was reading and today was turning into this evening, and the sun was striping the grass across the street, and sometimes that's all it takes.  the humidity fogs my lenses, though today we've had no rain.  the sun is falling out there to my left; i climbed katie's stairs halfway up to peep through the pear and cherry laurel trees. the birds are singing and i hear what i think are grasshoppers.  the cicadas will be along any moment.


i am six months behind on my new year's cleaning - in truth, three years and six months, so much not done since my mother's death - and it took a small bit of flooding the house to push me. on thursday evening, i stood close to the finish line, the air outside soft, unusually cool for this time of year, and full of cicadas and honeysuckle.  earlier i'd thrown two pieces of pottery into the creek, hard, breaking the ties of old friendships, the sound of endings the same as green apple cores tossed into the same creek, muffled, delicious.  i read old calendars, the ones i once used as diaries, all the pages past march always left empty, and i threw out the words no longer needed.

friday afternoon, two days into another four day weekend, and the floors were scattered with tools and old photographs.  outside, come-and-go rain came and went with a vengeance but no lightning - gray skies and green green green landscapes.  i hauled stuff to the jeep and let it rain on both me and the stuff.  the trashcan is piled to the tippy top. anything still good enough to be used, stuff i can't use at the business, i piled on the curb - baskets and fake easter eggs, a dish shaped like a crescent moon, a treasure chest once filled with christmas goodies - it was all gone within minutes.

sex and the city was on the television, sound on, the perfect background music; an old favorite song. i took breaks and plopped on the couch, watching here and there - during commercials i would read; i am two books into tuscany and its sunshine.  a break from italy, and i'd go through old files, tossing insurance forms for cars i haven't owned in twenty years, keeping almost nothing. i have new white file folders, replacing the old blue ones, which are now bound for the business to replace the old old red and yellow ones.

and then thunder.  a sleeping cat.  carrie moved to paris with the russian and frances mayes built an outdoor oven for her new mountain house.  the cat stayed sleeping and i read.


sunday.  sunshine this morning, though i didn't trust it.  i was out and about yesterday and it rained from blue skies and i needed sunglasses.  but today it fooled me and shone in every window all day. i have been slapping mosquitoes and catching up on laundry; breakfast was lasagne with cherries for dessert.  we don't have dessert with breakfast enough, if at all, and we should.

supper tonight will be a grapefruit, cold from the refrigerator, sugar sprinkled, serenaded by the now here cicadas.  life grows simple when i toss out the leftovers.



summer. day 4. yesterday with trucks and rain.

imagine no picture.  

imagine hot and humid, blue sky, white clouds.
that was how it started.
summer, day 4.

imagine that the ever-wonderful michael is just that, and that a drive is involved.  a short one to another county.  he'll ask if you want to go with him - he has to help out a friend, pick up a truck for that friend, who lives elsewhere and bought it on an online auction - and you'll say sure, how else you gonna get it back here?  and he'll tell you it probably won't start and if it starts, it probably won't go, that he just really needs to see, that he'll probably head back tomorrow with a trailer, but hey, worth a try, si?  and off you will go.  you will go slowly through the town where you once received a speeding ticket, even though you're not the one driving, and in fact you'll do that through all four of the little towns you must pass through before you get to your destination.  you'll pass the sign pointing to opelika both going and coming.

when you get there, you'll call kandi, who will tell you the truck is at the jail, which makes you laugh, but off to the jail you'll go, the jail where your uncle was once sheriff, although first the ever-wonderful will stop to buy two cans of fix-a-flat (he obviously knows more about the truck than you do) and a gasoline siphon hose.  he already has a new battery in the bed of his truck, and five gallons of gas.  (he obviously knows much more about the truck than you do.)

at the jail, another woman will take you to the incarcerated vehicles, faded from the texas sun, hot. sad.  trucks, jacked up vehicles, jet skis.  two boats.  the truck you've come for looks better than all the rest, and it has been there since 2011.  the woman will say no way can you get this going, and she's gotta see this, and you too, but you have faith.  the ever-wonderful can fix vehicles - he's got his daddy's genes - and besides, he says, this is just easy basic stuff.  he will set up the gasoline i.v. drip (which will stop dripping at about two gallons), and then off comes the bad battery, the one with corrosion and cheap connector things, whatever they're called, and he'll settle in the new battery, turn on the key, and suddenly there will be warning bells and the dome light will come on, and you will all start to smile.  2 flat flat back tires mean the truck will have to be jacked up before adding fix-a-flat, but no problem - he knows this stuff. what the woman and you know is that there are two wasps's nests inside the passenger side door, with wasps, but no problem there either.  he will have wasp killing stuff.  sorry wasps, but adios.

and then he will start the truck, the truck with a homemade added toggle switch on the dashboard, and it will vrooom into life with a roar.  paperwork signed, he will climb behind the wheel and you will climb behind the wheel of his truck.  he'll get directions to the county annex to get a texas temporary one trip permit and you will try to figure out how to lock and unlock his truck - the key is confusing. then off to a gas station, first one we see, he'll tell you.  the truck needs more gas and the tires need air.  it will sound so easy when he says it.

it is hot.  it is more humid.  the first station has no air.  you will follow him through the station, no point in stopping, and down the road to the next station, which will look fine, but looks are deceiving, and y'all will discover that not only are most of the pumps not working (the line of vehicles waiting means a third station is hopefully the charm), the air hose is missing its nozzle.  the ever-wonderful will discover this only after he's deposited four quarters and you'll discover this only when you hear him begin to cuss.  he's tired and it's hot, and he needs tape for the temporary permit because it won't stay put.

third gas station.  at last.  gasoline.  while he gasses up, you'll park near the air hose and check to make sure all is intact, then head inside to buy you each a coke.  when you get back outside, you'll see someone has parked in such a way as to block the air.  your cell phone will keep ringing - a friend of your brother's, asking you to call when you get a chance.  you'll be unable to find quarters, the ringing phone and rising humidity beginning to make you crazy, and you'll have to go back into the store to break a dollar bill, and then you'll just wave poor michael, ever-wonderful still, into the handicapped spot next to you, and between the two of you you will get those back tires aired all the way up.  and you will head home.

when you pull onto the highway, there are storm clouds ahead.  in the distance, but you can see they are waiting for you.  michael will see those also, and he'll decide to try the windshield wipers, just in case. and the rubber will just fly right on off - after all, the truck had been sitting in the texas weather since the summer of no rain.  when he pulls into an auto parts store, you pray it has a public bathroom.  you need to pee.  they do.

windshield wipers attached, y'all will head back off.  you are now over three hours into what should have been a two hour trip, and suddenly you are in the storm.  the storm.  the ever-wonderful is long gone in front of you, and you are trying to figure out how to turn on his truck's headlights. you can see nothing but rain and headlights, and you are sure no one can see you, so you pull off the road and call the ever-wonderful.  the switch is on the dashboard, he says, turn it clockwise.  at that moment you will begin to hate his truck.  the switch must be turned until it stops and that means past all the symbols, and you'll get out in the downpour to see if you have lights, but you won't, and you'll drive almost blind until you find a building that you can shine the lights at, at last figuring out the mysterious switch.  the rain is pouring, but back onto the highway you go, this time not seeing the baby goats you saw on the way up.  your shoulders will grow tense, and your neck will begin to hurt, and you'll swear to yourself you will break up with you-know-who if he ever again buys a truck like this.  you'll wish you'd driven your jeep.

when you reach town, water will be everywhere, gushing down the sides of roads, under bridges, and you will begin to worry about your house, begin to wonder if it has flooded.  the ever-wonderful calls and asks if you can stop somewhere and get a couple of burgers.  it's after four and he's hungry, and he's already back to the business.  you say yes, though in truth you really just want to get out of the rain, and it will take forever, and the burgers will be mediocre at best, and you will be even more achy.  and, yes, when you get home, you'll find you were right to worry about your house. the kitchen will be flooded, the bathroom, and the back closet - the one the builder never finished, the one with no ceiling.  you will remember that just last weekend you said you were going to toss out everything that was in that closet, and so you begin.  you know it will take you days, but it is a sign. and you take signs seriously.


this morning the trash can is full of ruined art paper and purses and old vacuum cleaners.
sorry stuff, but adios.

the sky looks like rain.