“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


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.