“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


blog tour monday

i was recently asked by kelly over at the blue muse (poet, writer, walker under the moon) if i'd be willing to talk about it.  you know, it.  my creative process, why i do it and how, as part of a virtual blog tour to introduce new people to new people.  i said yes without thinking twice, and thought how easy it would be.  four questions.  la dee dah, and there you go.  i should know better.  ain't nothing easy when it comes to talking about one's art and the whys, but it's always good to sit yourself down every once in a while and re-examine it all.

you can read kelly's post here, and i suggest backtracking through the other participants.  you'll be glad you did.


and now, me.

what am i working on?

friday it was painting furniture.  my meditation.  it fills my desire to get my hands dirty and helps me let go of the paralyzing need to make art with a capital A.  it reminds me of the importance of craft. soothes my soul with a different language than the one i use when writing and loosens me up mentally.

saturday was photography, and every day it's words.  some days not many, but i am not a number counter.  recently, i've been working on a set of vignettes i call continuations.  the idea appeared last fall, beginning as an idea for sculptures, quickly evolving into words and images, though sculptures are still a possibility.  my moving back and forth between stories and pictures and maybe those sculptures, my dithering, is part of the continuation.  the to be continued . . . part.

how does my work differ from others of its genre?

do i even have a genre i fit into?  i've never felt i do.  i'm not really a poet, there's no great american novel simmering inside me, i'm a lackadaisical painter.  more than anything, i just think of myself as a storyteller/collage artist, using whatever tools i need to tell a story, whatever’s close at hand.  i like to collage my tales together, using song lyrics as glue, or quotes from a book, or descriptions of the day outside my open door.  i usually tie that in with a photograph, but often i leave the visuals out of the picture, so to speak, playing with words only.  no plot is ever necessary.

why do i write/create what i do?

i have no idea, and that's the truth.  i just do.  i blame my fingers.

how does your writing/creative process work?

i've told this before, but i unfocus. unfocusing is hugely important for me.  i let go but i pay attention. i open myself to whatever comes.  i listen with respect to typos and misspelled words.  there is a krishnamurti quote i love that describes this process perfectly:  In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should not be on concentration, but on attention.  Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers.  within that borderless place live my words and pictures and ideas and truths.


my thanks to kelly for inviting me to be a part of this tour, and making me think.  it's now my turn to introduce you to a couple of women i read and love.  please be sure to visit their blogs next monday to read their answers to these questions.  you can even visit earlier.

Jeannine Peregrine
is a reader of books and poems, a classic film devotee, and a daydream believer (but not a homecoming queen) living near Norfolk, Virginia.  She writes at her blog, distilled from stars.

Lola M.
was born to a raven-haired California gypsy with magpie blood. Aries Sun. Cancer Moon. Writer. Photographer. Mother. Artist. Treasure Hunter. Kitchen Witch. Food, booze, and art enthusiast. Creative co-conspirator. Hostess of dinner parties and craftress circles. Collector of books, baubles, branches, bones, and stones. A lover of the written word ever since she can remember, and a lover of food since before that.  You can visit her at Vine & Bone.



everyday sunday: may 11

sunday morning. humid, still, lush, sticky, overgrown.  creamy white catawba blossoms hang from the gray sky, dropping spent blooms into the creek. the smell of honeysuckle meanders in through the open doors. the green could not be greener. i am typing to the one rhythm my fingers seem to have, a slow dance, almost not moving.

small breezes blow by and keep going.  we'll stay.  the day is calling us.



why the gods send floods and other calamities

He was through the afterhours unlocked front door before I remembered what time it was, all short black dreads and nervousness, asking did we have booster cables, his car was right there in the across the street parking lot, full of girlfriend and baby and just bought used clothes, and he pointed thataway, and we said yes. We tried MB’s fancy new wonderful cables, and my old tried and true ones, but the car was having none of it, and so we figured he would call a friend, but neither he nor she had a phone, at least not with them, he said, just the baby and that dead Ford, so MB offered up his phone and it turned out they had no friends right at that moment either. It turned out also that the dead Ford had no gasoline, so while MB drove him to get a gallon and the baby sat behind the steering wheel, turning the key, trying to start the vehicle, the girlfriend sized me up to see if any of her new salvation army/goodwill clothing finds would fit me, which mattered not, because no way no how was I accepting a neon pink jumpsuit, regardless of the good intentions behind the offer.

We were an hour past our going home time, with stuff still to do, but you gotta be a human being sometimes, just to remind the gods and yourself that all is not lost. Earlier in the day we’d been driving, and behind a man who'd used his left arm to signal turns, and I’d said to MB that just the seeing of that gave me hope that all was not lost, both the me remembering what they were part and the man using them part, but MB just laughed and assured me it was too late. Civilization was gone. And though in truth I mostly agreed with him, deep down, part of me was still lit up by that right turn hand signal, thinking maybe not.

So we kept trying to get that Ford going but it was just done for, supposed new Walmart battery or not, gasoline or not, but at last MB's phone connected with one of their friends and we left them waiting in the parking lot, baby and all, but not before the guy suggested we disconnect the battery on MB’s truck and loan it to him for a while. And that's where the little light in me that’d been lit by the day's earlier arm signals just flickered on out. I hope they got home all right, hope some of those clothes fit her, and I hope the gods weren't listening, because it seemed proof that all is lost. 

The girlfriend sitting in the car with no phone, no texting, no sighing, no drama, had kind of also lit me up a teeny bit, right there at the first, until we'd engaged in a bit of conversation. Life just happens, she'd said to me, and apologized for using up our time, which we'd not even thought about. Life does just happen, way too often sometimes, but you can't just sit in the car and let someone else take care of you, I'd thought back, wanting her to do something besides sit there in the passenger seat, spreading clothes across her lap and asking my opinion of each piece. Her acceptance of whatever happened seemed to cross the line over onto passive, and that's where life does just happen to you and you just let it and you never put up a fight even when a fight is needed.  


Later in the week, at the grocery store. A guy in line ahead of me, buying milk, cigarettes, cereal. The plastic gallon of milk had sprung a tiny hole and left a Hansel and Gretel trail of milkdrops all the way up to where he stood, and when I pointed it out, he and the cashier found the tiny hole, and she said she'd send for another gallon, an intact one, but he said to tell the manager he'd give him half price for the leaky one - after all, he said, the milk was fine, and they were just gonna toss it. Off she went to the manager, and he and I looked at each other.  No way will he let me, he said. I agreed. Managers have no power, I replied.  It's all a tax write-off, he said back, and when we were right, when the cashier returned and said the manager said he could do nothing, we just smiled, and I thought back to the mom and pop stores of the old days, when in fact managers were often owners and did have power, thinking no way would milk have been thrown out, written off, thinking a deal would have been made. And then the cigarettes. Marlboro lights, he said, apologizing that he'd not mentioned them when she had headed off earlier, and the cashier was off again, to retrieve the cigarettes from wherever the store keeps them under lock and key, secret passwords and thumbprints no doubt required to gain entry, making it all the sadder/funnier when she returned with regular old Marlboros, not Marlboro lights, necessitating another trip to wherever the cigarettes lived.  

We exchanged looks, that guy and I, and laughed, and I recalled out loud how when I was a girl, cigarettes were right there at the cashier's stand, and my mother would send me in to get her a pack whilst she waited in the car. All is lost, he said to me, turning back after he'd paid and was on his way out. We are done for.

I expect a flood any day now, and I have no ark.  


all true.
capital letters a nod to story a day, keeping me in story writing mode,
even with everyday events.

in rereading this, it strikes me how very southern it is,
and so also apologies and thanks to t.r. pearson,
always an inspiration and especially so when i fall into storytelling mode.
if i have crossed a bit of a line into his cadence, it is unintentional.



storyaday1: getting home

His car is old and mostly silver and has a wire clothes hanger for a radio antenna, and he always parks it on the street, leaving the driveway for the woman he calls his wife, though she’s actually not; the real one is 20 years and 200 miles away, but this morning . . . this morning he wonders why.  About it all.  About those 20 years spent too far north of where he was raised, about why this woman and not the other, but mostly about that driveway.  Mostly about is this his home or is it not, and if it is, why this woman he calls his wife never shares the street with him, never, not even on his birthday, lets his sad old car celebrate a moment or two in the driveway. 

He works the night shift at a warehouse, listening to everyone’s stories, all of them just gettin’ by, taking smoke breaks together way out in the parking lot where the law allows it, they all walking out together to that spot and talking always about the time:  how late is it, man?  I got a home and a wife waitin’ on me, laughing and making rude remarks that probably no one’s wife would actually take offense at, but he usually says little.  Just joins in the laughter and the having of another cigarette, and doesn’t think too far beyond the smoke.  He’s easy with almost everything, just lets things go by, just does those things he’s supposed to do to earn a paycheck or be allowed to stay in the house.  Sometimes when mowing the lawn or raking the leaves, he allows himself to think of it as his house too, but it’s just a flash of a thought, and he stops it quickly.  Easier to just remember it is hers.

But in the darkness of this early morning he pulls up the street, tired from another overtime shift, and he doesn’t stop the thoughts.  The street has become a harder place on which to park, too many people with too many vehicles moving in, taking up too much space.  He has to pass his/her/their house, wondering about that, has to pass it and turn the car around in the intersection half a block away before he can pull close to the curb next to the lawn he mows.  To be fair, he reminds himself, she mows it also, but this morning he doesn’t feel like being fair, he feels like a cold beer in the coldish early morning to end his workday, to start the real day, so he parks his car there on the street, grabs a beer from the cooler he keeps with him, rolls the window down, and lights another cigarette.  And he lets himself think.  Lets himself wonder if it’s worth it – this woman and this house that hold him at arm’s length.  

It grows chillier, and he rolls the window up a bit, watches a light come on here and there in neighbors’ homes, gives a nod to the newspaper family delivering papers, just nursing the beer and thinking.  And looking at that driveway.

It’s a bad driveway, one car wide, but several cars long, and that’s part of the problem, he once again lies to himself; she has to be able to pull her car out when she goes to work, when he’s just falling asleep in bed, but he knows, especially this morning when the thinking won’t stop, that it’s such an easy fix, that she just won’t allow it.  He’s tried it more than once – parking her car on the street while he moves his up onto the driveway, and then moving her car back – such an easy solution to such a silly situation, but it’s never been worth the grief she gives him when she wakes up and he is caught.  He’s never understood, but he’s always stayed silent, though he shakes his head and smiles his sly smile at her while he goes out to move his car back onto the street.  When she leaves, when the driveway is empty, he doesn’t bother to move his car again.  He just leaves it where it is.

This morning, he lights another cigarette, watching the smoke cover the stars, and takes another sip of beer.  The darkness slowly begins to make its way to dawn, and he wonders how warm it would be 200 miles south, if the 20 years he and his real wife have stayed married would count for anything in her eyes, wonders how it would feel to pull up to her house – another woman in his life with her own house – wonders if she would let him park on the driveway, and laughs at himself for wanting such a small thing.  

The birds begin to wake up, songs hidden behind the leaves of trees, and it occurs to him that they feel more at home here than he does.  That they have no driveways to quarrel about, and for just a moment he wishes for wings.  He would never admit that to anyone, he can just imagine what the guys at work would say to that piece of silliness, but then they are all home snug in bed with their wives, warming against their skin, their cars and trucks no doubt parked in their own driveways.  He wonders how they managed that, what he’s missed over the years, sitting in his silence.  Wonders how to change that, wonders if he really wants to, wonders if perhaps all the home he needs is this broken down car and a cooler of beer and money for cigarettes.   Knows it’s not.  

He opens another beer.  To end and start the day off right.  To slow down the thinking.  He knows the way to his wife’s house – his real wife’s house – and he knows how long it would take to get there.  He doesn’t know anything else but that possibility of road, and this empty stretch of driveway before him, beckoning him in.  He smiles that sly smile, shakes his head at himself, and starts the car.  


i'm participating in storyaday's may challenge - hence the capital letters you see above, and today's prompt is getting home.  i'm not sure i can write a story a day, not sure if what you see above really counts, but i'm gonna try.  i won't be posting them all here, but i thought i'd let y'all see where i am and what i'm up to.