“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


still catching magic. year 7 begins.

it's been 6 years of words.  6 years of bad photographs and good, art and not, prose that worked, poems that sometimes didn't.  6 years of joy anger heartbreak silliness.  6 years of blackbirds, of floods, drought, deaths, summers.  surprise winter snows,  6 years of driving backroads with katie, using this blog as an excuse, saying i need to find pictures, meaning in truth let's go get lost.

6 years of my toes and cats and, well, you know.  stuff.

sunday was my official 6 year blogiversary, but the neighborhood was blooming and i couldn't say no to the flowers.  at 6 you know what's important.  i head into this 7th year feeling good.  i feel awake and willing to cut down the thorns that have grown around me for the last couple of years. dismantling, baby.


above, once again, the painting that started it all.  when emma still believed in magic.  painted when emma was young and believed so easily.  she's now 17, and i have a feeling she wouldn't out loud admit it if she still did.  it takes a while, to come back to that place, to believe again, to hold out your hands and catch all the magic the universe is tossing your way.  and even then, there will be moments of darkness when you make fists and sleep with your head under the blanket, moments it all seems gone, when you feel deserted and alone.  it doesn't matter - the universe will wait.  the gifts and magic are still there, and always were.  thank you all - all of y'all who have hung in with me while my head was under the blanket.  there are no words to tell you how much it has meant. you have been my gifts.


this morning is chilly, that last surprise freeze headed our way.
hopefully the last, but who knows?
the tulip trees are still pink and full
and yesterday i passed a row of daffodils shining like stars in the gray day. 



everyday sunday. february.

and we have pink.
and lavender.
and paler shades of both.

this week the tulip trees bloomed.
ours on thursday;
at breakfast just baby buds,
by mid afternoon opening their faces to the sun.

this morning two trees across the street.

saturday i passed trees up and down the streets, celebrating february's almost end.  the forsythia has bloomed yellow at the foot of our driveway, and the pear trees are full of almost buds.   there's a tree on a corner between work and home, all blossomed with white flowers - it blooms early every year and i have no idea what it is.  some years, it blooms a tad later than usual and i think dogwood? and sometimes i think pear?  yesterday i thought white camellia?  it scatters flowers on the brick street, and i tell myself every year to stop and gather a few, to know its true name, but i don't.  i let it scatter magic and drive on by.

the camellias in the back yard are full of fat round buds and there are three red blossoms reaching for katie's windows, as if her home was the house of the sun.  if this is a false spring, i will take it, but it sounds like the real thing, unending birdsong flittering across the air.  there is not a bird to seen at this moment, after days of waking up to cardinals, robins, sparrows, blackbirds, all helter skeltered across the yard, but i hear them in the trees, and there - there, just barely visible in the hackberry tree, one tiny fluttering sparrow.

yesterday evening, one redtailed hawk and one barred owl, high in oak trees, stared each other down before calling it a draw and flying off into the north.


everyday sunday.

a new spot on this map called emma tree.  it will be here every week.  it will be the nothings of life and the everythings.  today's sunday is the last sunday of february.  i feel almost sad typing that, knowing february doesn't have any more in her pockets, and my fairy tale brain wonders where the months go when they are done.  february needs a bit of sleep, i think, but will she wake in july to turn up her air conditioner?  will july laugh at her?  stuff and nonsense and everydays.

my writing fingers feel energized.  i have no idea why, it may be a false start also, but i will take it, along with the spring that teases me outside the open doors.


byron sits in the shadows across the street,
his black legs stretched to catch some sunlight,
his white socks so white they almost glow.
his feet reach for the bunches of paperwhites blooming against his porch,
as if their blossoms are the houses of the sun.


the thief moveth - post 1: 8.29.11.

3 years ago my mother died - in fact, almost 3 years exactly; 6 more days to go.  i floundered and wrote and felt lost and wrote and floundered some more, and i began to spread out, needing something new, something different.  one of those things was a new blog, one i called the thief of quotations.  my panic room.  a place i could go and post quotations and maybe nothing else, or a place to post quotes and maybe pictures and a line or two from me, a response to the quote.  an escape, a place to stop thinking about my life.  i go back every once in a while and read the 8 posts I posted and i'm always happy with it, but in this year of dismantling, it is time to let it go.

but not the posts.  i will spare their lives.  a thumb up to the crowd and all that.

i'll be reposting them here, one at a time, here and there, not in the order originally posted (it is, after all, also the year of no rules), until they are all safe and sound under the emma tree.  and ps - i still like the idea of the thief - expect to see new such posts.   they are small things and take little room.

we start today.

read. out loud.

He held up a book then.  "I'm going to read it to you for relax."
"Does it have any sports in it?"
"Fencing.  Fighting.  Torture.  Poison.  True Love.  Hate.  Revenge.  Giants.  Hunters.  Bad men.  Good men.  Beautifulest Ladies.  Snakes.  Spiders . . . Pain.  Death.  Brave men.  Cowardly men.  Strongest men.  Chases.  Escapes.  Lies.  Truths.  Passion.  Miracles."  
"Sounds okay," I said, and I kind of closed my eyes.

~~~~  william goldman / the princess bride

i can read to her forever and sometimes she closes her eyes.
michael never does and he remembers every word. 



sky blue and silver and sometimes black

me in the mirror, feathers, unfinished perfect paper mache bowl.

no one shows a child the sky ~ african proverb


we want people to show us the sky.
we are afraid we are looking at it all wrong,
or dressed wrong for the occasion.
we will pay people money to take our heads in their hands,
tilt us back and say there.
open your eyes.


how does it happen that we forget to see?

it's really that simple.
long boring academic papers are written about the subject,
proper capital letters, footnotes, correct spacing,
(god forbid there should not be correct spacing).
i want to give those authors crayons and paper and say hush.  draw me your sky.


my sky today is blue and and cloudless,
full of sunshine.
the tulip trees are blooming;
no one has to show them the sky.



sunday with birds and bare feet

there were so many birds in the front yard this morning that the cat just turned away.  at first she was out and into them, cardinals and crows and what sounded like thousands of robin redbreasts, but the selection was just too much.  too overwhelming.  like trying to find the perfect salsa at whole foods with an entire aisle of the stuff stretching before you; no way to make a decision.  you just grab a jar of pace's and go.

yesterday was one japanese yellow apple, which katie steams and sprinkles with saigon cinnamon.  it was an espresso cup, white, edged in pale teal, thai chilis and dark chocolate.  it was sunshine and no jacket needed.  this morning was birds, and this afternoon also, us sitting on the stairs behind katie's business, the song of sparrows in the bushes, the flutter of wings in the birdbaths.

it is that moment in february when we begin to see promises of spring down the road, temperatures all weekend in the low low 70s, with rumors that the week ahead will be the same.  70, 71, 71, 73, etc., etc., all the way to next weekend.  bicycles appear on the street, strollers, joggers, no one bundled against winter.  we begin to talk of baseball.  it is a moment that will pass - we carry jackets in our cars, gloves stashed in their pockets, and i never put boots back in the closet (though, in truth, i never put shoes back in the closet, or flipflops, at least not the shoes i slip in and out of everyday; they are scattered all about the house and i know where each pair is).  from experience i know this back and forthness of weather will continue on until baseball season begins, and also from experience i know i will too-soon disconnect heaters and then shiver through the bits of cold the beginning of april will bring as surprises.

it is 7 pm, and they say it is still 70° outside, but inside it feels cooler and my toes are chilly.  skye cat is asleep on the couch, on the left side she has stolen from me, where she usually scrunches between my thigh and the couch's arm, and i am awake on the bed, contemplating lighting a fire before night moves all the way in.  this house is hard to heat - a good thing most of the year, but an iffy thing the rest of the time, and especially so when the weather falls into springlike posture.  we will see - i am still in bare feet and sleeveless shirt.  perhaps just socks instead of a fire.



no rules or red pens, not even a thesaurus

it's morning and i've been up a bit, reading here and there all the rules about writing, and they are a lot like the rules about exercise.  do it in the morning and then get on with your day.  apparently one size fits all in the world of rules.  back when i used to work out, i tried that morning thing, tripping over my own toes, dropping weights, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.  morning writing is a lot less dangerous, at least physically, and i appreciate the stumbles across the page more than those stumbles across a cold floor.

i think the truth lives in those stumbles, in those shaky sentences.

but rules?  get it done and get on with my day? 
get it done? 

i gather phrases and words throughout my day, seeds that often must be planted under a full moon, or 3 breaths past the new moon, or sometimes as the evening sun sinks below a horizon line i can't see for all the trees.  i jot sentences across the backs of bank deposit slips or type them into my phone while in line at mcdonald's.  i leave myself voice memos and laugh at how texan i sound when later i listen to the ideas i had or the descriptions of thieves i have known.

and later i write.  i begin at night or mid afternoon and then comes the morning and the stumbling of truths and lies.  i am distracted by catfights and the songs of birds, and i need food only after i've begun to type.  i watch the weather and burn the toast and open windows and my toes go from cold to hot, and i am up and down and interrupted, and sunshine like we have this morning calls my name in a loud loud voice, but i keep typing.  i make mistakes but i keep typing.

but sometimes i don't.  sometimes i write late at night across a blue legal pad, propped up in bed with the cat nestled next to me so close a breath wouldn't fit between us.  sometimes the truth lives there, in the words i know no one else will see, in the anger of the day spilled across those late pages.

i pretend to myself that some day, when someone else is paying my bills, and there's no business overhead to worry about, that i will have rules.  i will suddenly become a morning person, and i will sit at a desk, not cross legged on the couch with a laptop propped against my thighs, and i will drink tea instead of a coke, and i will begin to type as the sun begins to rise, and i won't stop until i have reached a predetermined word count.  i will get it done and get on with my day.  only then will i notice the sparrow tucked inside the tangle of wisteria branches, only then will i notice that the wind is up and leaves are flying.

i will have missed so much.


i have a thousand first lines saved, and,
because someone talked about the dangling star leaves,
i will tell you my secret.
i always always think of those first lines as buds on a tree of many stories.
they will grow.
and because it's a tree of many stories,
they will all grow at different times and speeds.
some require rainy days,
but some need drought.



in which the universe leaves me a valentine

this morning's melting ice.
next to the bridge, a couple steps out the door.

i am loved.




window, pink.
from years ago.
it always reminds me of a church.

wait is a cruel thing.  yesterday i suddenly deep down understood the meaning of prey, from both sides of the word.  a dying squirrel, the sun setting in a gray sky, empty tree limbs, the silhouettes of red tailed hawks.  waiting.


yesterday they were back, the hawks who call this neighborhood home.  they are a couple, and in truth it is wrong to say they were back - this is their territory, i just said they called it home; they no doubt have a nest nearby.  it's closer to truth to say they paid us another visit.  even closer to truth to say they were hungry and we have a yard full of fat squirrels.

yesterday's kill was not a clean one.  the hawk slammed into katie's window, dropping the squirrel under her stairs, at the bottom of the cherry laurel tree, alive, but badly injured.  had the squirrel been uninjured, just in shock, able to catch its breath and move on, it was a good place to be, impossible for a hawk to dive beneath.  but.  there is always a but.

the hawk moved from tree to tree, pear to oak to sweet gum, feathers alert and ruffled, and called her mate, who settled in the big oak in the side yard.  they would wait.  and when the time came, one or the other would sneak over, scoop up the squirrel and they would be gone.  we could feel their awful patience in the air, and at our feet, the squirrel, dying.  slowly.  at our feet.   between her door and mine.  not something we could ignore, the way people ignore deaths and suffering on the television news.  no other channel to switch to.  had katie's husband been home he would have quickly shot the squirrel, we knew that, and we knew it would be right, but he was out of town.

when texted, he replied shoot it.  air gun.  and so katie did.  it was not an easy thing, playing god.

we picked it up and offered it to the hawks.  laid it in the wide open part of the side yard and waited.  they acted like gods, and did so easily, awaiting our acknowledgment.  a gift.


when i checked the definition of coexistence, i was surprised at the mention of the word peace.  to exist together in peace, always listed second, after to exist together at the same time.  looking further, i found merriam-webster's added words: to live in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy.  ah.  it does not come naturally.  it requires an agreement.  hence the not so peaceful nature of nature's coexistence.


my cat has destroyed the cover of my greeny-blue chair.  at the time the destruction began, i still called her my mother's cat and we were figuring out our new life together, and screw it, it's just a chair, i thought.  i tried to stop her, but i wasn't letting her go outside by herself, and cats gotta scratch, and chairs can be recovered, and in less time than i expected the chair was claw poked and torn.  i tied an old baby blanket over the worst part and laughed it off and she and i continued building our relationship and figuring out the sharing of this space.  eventually - now so long ago that i can't even remember her as only an inside cat - she was allowed outside all by herself, and she found her way to maggie's favorite old scratching spot at the bottom of a pear tree next to the creek.  it must make the tree happy to have cats to scratch its itch.



an oonch of snow

me on the bridge, watching snow plunk into the creek below.
yesterday afternoon late.

as darkness fell, it turned into sleet and smattered against the front door and windows, but before that, back when there was still daylight to be seen, a hawk swooped low and fast, following the creek line, a blur of feathers surrounded by snowflakes.

if these words just faded into nothingness they would look the same.
dark against light and then gone.