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Winter View

26 Jan

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As snow approaches…I remember a blizzard in New York

11 Jan

Where oh Where

8 Jan

Winter feels delayed

Only frost on the windows

Brisk air that greats me in the morning

But still no snow

The decayed looked of bare trees

The crunch of the cold earth

But still no snow

 As if preparing for a guest

Readying yourself for their arrival

and they never come

Until two months later

When you’ve already forgotten

and they are on your doorstep

Winter of my Content

2 Jan

Yesterday was warm, almost like Spring was just around the corner waiting to surprise me.  This morning, it was bitter cold and the flurries were like white confetti from the sky.  Now, the wind is blowing hard again, but the sun is shining as if it were forcing its very will upon the cold.  It’s not time yet, the sun seems to be saying.  Just a little more time until the grayness permeates the sky.

I should not complain about impending Winter.  It will, as it always has, occur every year for those of us in the areas blessed with four seasons.  Although the trees are barren and the grass meekly clinging to the last vestiges of green, the landscape of Winter can be beautiful.  The purity of falling snow, ice like glass hanging from tree limbs making them look like twinkling chandeliers in the winter sunlight.  The puff of breath, visible only in the coldness, and the night sky revealing more of the worlds that lay beyond.  Winter is bleak, yet such a disarmingly simple palate can be  exquisite.

Of course there’s a metaphor in the harshness of winter.  The trials one must endure always knowing there is a promise of ease from the unrelenting cold.  Hang on, we tell ourselves, the sudden blossoming of trees, the sudden warmth in the air, is there in the distance.  We can enjoy the delicate ice and snow, knowing there is the burst of life we need to sustain us in the future.  And there it is.  The promise of something better to come, if we just see our way through the nights that darken too early and the cold that sends us shivering to the sanctity of our beds.

When I lived in New England, I would begrudgingly endure the winters.  I rarely left the house except for an occasional bout of playfulness in the snow.  It was beautiful, intoxicating, but after mere minutes out in it, my feet wet, my nose painfully cold, I would retreat back into the warmth.  My winters are milder in the South, yet my body is conditioned for hibernating when the first cold snap rears its ugly head.

In keeping with the metaphor of the seasons, I decided this year maybe I am meant to see something else in the winter.  Maybe it’s not to just be endured, but to see something useful in its existence.  Having been self-reflective for quite a while now, I believe there is something to be gained, even in the harshest of conditions.  The last year was not always easy, yet there were so many wonderful moments.  Each of them beautiful and unique like the snowflakes that are destined to fall soon.

Maybe this year, I’ll stand outside with my feet wet and my nose cold and look up at the sky devoid of any color but gray, and I’ll inhale deeply the crisp air and I’ll be grateful for it all.  Even that which has caused the most pain.  Because my gratitude for the first buds on the trees or a Robin hopping in the ever green grass, will be that much more.  There is a lesson in it all, maybe I just have to be smart enough to study it.

Wind Blows

1 Jan

How warm it is today

The bluster of a far away wind

Bringing with it smells from elsewhere

Winter held at bay

Ushering in the new year

With the promise that Spring

Is not so far away

Is there any sadness that can

ruin the beauty of this day?

Despite pain, there is indeed wonder

Look in the mirror and smile

You are part of it all

CHICK AND BADGER …. BOOK TWO

10 Apr

Badger was in only one word that could possibly describe him at that very moment, despondent. He sat in the dankness of his hovel, his stomach rumbling as he had eaten the last of his honey and clovers the night before. He had been hiding for days from Chick, who showed up every morning for breakfast and every morning he peeked out of the burrow to watch her waddle away, her beak ducked sadly.

For days they had been the best of friends and the fizzy feeling in his badger stomach had made him fall asleep with a smile only a badger could manage. He didn’t think he would like having a friend who poked and prodded his feelings so much. He didn’t think he would like having a friend who could talk about the color green or a dandelion she had sat watching. But he did. He looked forward to when he would hear Chick humming as she walked and the little fluff of her feathers she did when she saw him. She thought he didn’t notice, but he noticed everything about her.

She taught him about ducks and he taught her about badgers. When they walked along the creek, she floated in the mirror of the water and would look at her reflection and think there is one all the other animals know, and then there is the real Chick I know. In return, he let her see the real him behind the fur and the growling exterior.

He knew in his heart Chick’s heart was full of the us that was. Yet, sometimes, they would sit on a patch of grass and the bees buzzed and the birds flew and she would ask him to tell her something important and the words would get stuck in the fizz of his stomach. He would get grumpy when he became tongue tied and twitchy when she poked a certain feeling too hard. He had not known ducks were so sensitive and Chick would drop her wings in a sad way and he would feel the change between them.

One morning, when Chick had huffed away having only asked him what his favorite flower was and he wanted to tell her it was not really a flower, but the honeysuckle bush that tasted as sweet as honey but smelled so much sweeter, but the words jumbled on his tongue. What did she think? He was a badger after all. Badger’s had certain behaviors and who was she to huff about them?

“Friendship is impossible.” Bear, the squirrel who lived above the honey hive, said as he piled acorns in a pyramid against the root of the tree.

Badger harumphed and watched the field to see if Chick would make the trek across the dew dotted grass that morning to yet again be turned away.

Bear clucked his tongue and shook his tail. “I know badgers are stupider than squirrels, but you Badger are the stupidest of them all.”

Badger growled and snapped his jaws. “Leave me alone, Bear.”

“Squirrels know a lot about love, Badger.”

“You don’t know what you are talking about.”

“The world is big, Badger.” Bear continued, balancing another acorn on top of an already lopsided and wobbily pile. “I was up in my tree and I heard her chirping about other ponds. You’re afraid she’ll go away to another pond and you’re afraid all these things about you that make her huff away will mean she will never come back.”

“Why can’t she just let me be me?” Badger sighed, no longer interested in arguing with Bear. Squirrels were smarter than badgers after all.

“Because one day she’ll have to move to another pond, and she is afraid too.” Bear clucked his tongue again. “And she’s afraid you’re so comfortable hiding in your hole you won’t want to venture to other ponds with her.”

“Why can’t she just stay in one pond and things never change between us?”

Bear walked over to Badger and patted his shoulder. “Just like the seasons, we change Badger. If we don’t change everything would always be the same and we would never meet ducks named Chick or see snow on the tree limbs or seas of flowers.”

“I make her huff and I think I hurt her feelings.”

“She makes you harumph and she hurts your feelings, but does that mean you don’t want to be her friends?”

Badger sniffled. “It never does.”

“Squirrels are smart.” Bear tossed an acorn over his shoulder and his entire pyramid of the nuts collapsed and rolled into the leaves. Bear shrugged. “Things fall down and you get a chance to rebuild it. Every time you make it a little stronger and a lot sturdier until you get it figured out.”

At that moment, Badger knew squirrels named Bear were the smartest of squirrels. He moved closer to the edge of the hill so he could look down and see it all stretched out before him. He could see Chick then, her black and yellow feathers lit by the sun as she made her way toward him, stopping to sniff a flower to watch a bug. But she was coming toward him.

Instead of hiding, he sighed heavily and waved sheepishly. At least he thought he waved the way a sheep would. Chick fluffed her feathers then and he knew no matter about the huff or the harumph, she still wanted to tell him about green and dandelions.

“I’m sorry I don’t always understand you.” She said as she sat down next to him.

“I’m sorry sometimes I stop trying.”

“I saw a grasshopper with dark green wings.”

Badger smiled and the fizzy feeling in his stomach made him feel warmer than the sun ever could.

Sprung

15 Jan

That’s it

I’m sloughing off winter

Cold to the bone

Ready for the sun to heat my skin again

Ready for the smell of soil

The sound of birds

The feel of warm rain plopping on my head

I’m ready to thaw

Even my heart

Bursting at the seams with what will be

Stretching my arms toward

You

The smile entirely your fault

Knowing even though the bitter is outside howling

It is spring between us

Not dampened by distance

or time

or the boulders we must climb

Joy just because it is

Waiting for you

To stomp in the shallow puddles

With our wellies

and laugh at it all

A Christmas Carol

21 Dec

Christmas Whore

It’s that time of year
Time to spread my (pause)
Holiday Cheer
Jingle bells far and wide
In my work I take great pride

While some families trim their trees
I do my part on my knees
Lifting spirits and my dress
I provide a buffet of goodness

CHORUS:
I’m gonna bone
Santa
The wise men
Donner and Blitzen
The carolers down the block
All I want is Christmas c***
It’s time to sell my a**
In the alley after mass
It’s never a holiday chore
Being a Christmas whore.

You may choose to deck the halls
I prefer decking (pause)
Something entirely not related to rum balls
It’s not a holiday
Unless it’s the season for a lay

I won’t work on chaunaka
Winter solstice or Kwanza,
I do my part to celebrate
I give more than fruitcake

CHORUS:

I’m gonna bone
Jackfrost
The Mail Man
Even Father Damien
The carolers down the block
All I want is Christmas c***
It’s time to sell my a**
In the alley after mass
It’s never a seasonal bore
To be a Christmas whore.

I don’t need Mistletoe
It’s with great glee I’ll give a (pause)
Special holiday with all the trimmings job of blow
You won’t see me standing in a line
I’ll be on my back by dinner time

You won’t need to follow a star
I’m perched on a stool in a bar
Waiting for an offer of cash
In the car we will dash

I don’t want no frankincense
Pies of pumpkin and of mince
I don’t want to open a gift
Only one thing gives my spirit’s a lift

I wanna bone
The twelve drummers
Eleven pipers pipes
Ten lords need a ride
The carolers down the block
All I want is Christmas c***
It’s time to sell my a**
In the alley after mass
Tis the season to adore.
Being a Christmas whore.

It’s a Mediocre Life

19 Dec

I wish I was the type who teared up over It’s a Wonderful Life.  I suppose it’s my cold dead heart which prevents me from even enjoying what I find to be a maudlin movie.  Instead, I’m more of A Christmas Story watcher.  I watch Grinch every year (the cartoon, not the Jim Carrey debacle) and I’m sentimental when it comes to memories and traditions with my daughter.  Yet, I cannot watch Jimmy Stewart become grateful for what he does have in his life and take it seriously.

This year we’ve put up our tree, minus some ornaments which are being held hostage by an ex.  Instead of being bitter by it all, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to create new traditions with my daughter.  The problem is we can’t think of a new tradition.  We trimmed the tree as usual, we’re baking cookies today and we did manage to gorge ourselves on Christmas movies (minus It’s a Wonderful Life…yes, I know heresy).  Yet, we cannot think of a new tradition to share to celebrate the new path of our life.

This year, first of many that have gone by, we are going to be with my parents.  If you’ve been following my blog you know I have an entirely complicated relationship with them, especially my mother.  I’m still angry with her and the wreckage she has caused this year and it continues.  Sitting with them while decking the halls will be tense to say the least.  My sister and I have already established our arrival and departure times so we do not have to suffer more than necessary.  It’s sad this year instead of heartfelt homecoming, we are merely enduring the celebration.

I wanted this year to be different for my daughter.  I wanted to be the type of mother who cried over It’s a Wonderful Life and wore atrocious bow covered sweaters with pride.  I wanted to be the soccer mom she’s deserved.  Instead we made a gingerbread ghetto and she made a Christmas octopus manger scene for our mantle.  Yes, I said octopus.  We’ll be baking cookies later while watching Elf and sipping hot chocolate with cinnamon.  We’ll laugh and eat raw cookie dough and I’m sure there will be a beheaded snowman made.  At some point, we’ll argue about something trivial.  It will be our version of a sentimental holiday.

Maybe I don’t like It’s a Wonderful Life because everything comes wrapped up in a bright red bow.  Jimmy watches his life crumble around him, but his loving wife is there to pick up his pieces and his children are nauseatingly precious.  He decides life isn’t worth living, but his guardian angel shows him that even at his worst, he matters in the life of his loved ones.  Apparently the entire town collapses without him.  Rubbish, I say.  He then realizes despite his utter failures, he matters to those who love him and he rushes home to some cliches and a cute ending.

In my opinion he’s a narcissist of the worst order and selfish beyond compare.  I’m glad his epiphany prevented him from devastating his children with a Christmas memory of their father throwing himself off a bridge.  In my opinion, he shouldn’t have needed a guardian angel in the first place.  Life sucks, accept it and keep moving forward.  I don’t need an angel working hard for his wings to remind me I am important in someone’s life, not just for Christmas, but year round.  It’s my duty as a parent to take the lumps and prevail despite them.  It’s a gift I’m putting under the tree for my kid, one that I never received from mine.

So as we bake cookies, maybe our new tradition will be embracing our weirdness.  We’ll watch only the holiday movies we like and not feel bad about the rest.  We’ll make inappropriate cookies and laugh about it.  Maybe we’ll eat pasta as our Christmas meal.  Who cares?  It’s our holiday to celebrate however we see fit.

Oh wait, I didn’t mention Miracle on 34th Street.  Now that movie leaves me sobbing into my snuggie.  There, I’m not so cold dead hearted after all!

ARIZONA CHRONICLES – FINI

20 Nov

The field adjoining our road began to look like an intricate ant farm lay on its side.  Dug into the earth was a complicated maze of tunnels for the houses that would be built upon them.  I began spending my days walking the paths, hidden in the earth with only the sun overhead.  There were so many changes from when we first moved in and I was not happy with any of them.

I climbed up on the side, my feet dangling down and stared at the red Sold on the realtor sign in our front yard.  It was leaning to the side from the one afternoon I walked up to it and kicked it over.  Fearing my mother’s wrath, I then picked it up and tried to right it.  The sign was a mocking reminder that some things cannot be undone.  Selling our house and moving back to Kentucky was one of them.

In the evenings, I would sit in the spare bedroom with my sister playing Barbies and looking longingly at the disassembled cardboard castle now perched against the wall.  Of all the rooms packed and ready for the move, our playroom was the saddest.  We no longer had cardboard walls to hide us from the real world as my sister and I pretended we belonged to a royal family.  She was so young, I think she was anxiously awaiting the day they would arrive to take us to our real home.

She was too young to understand we were leaving to never return.  Instead, she treated our move as if it was another road trip with diner scrambled eggs and dirty gas station bathrooms.  I envied her ability to laugh and be happy despite the inevitable.  Even then, I knew in my gut, instead of life improving, it would become harder.

The weeks leading to our move, my mother was angrier than ever before.  This was something my father could not fix, and I think she hated him for it.  He had a family to support and he felt he could do better in Kentucky.  I would also like to think her volatility came into play.  Although she viewed Arizona as her new home, she had never assimilated and was anything but happy.  Maybe he thought moving back to her family would fix her.  To this day, we have never discussed what happened in Arizona to her.

The morning we moved, the truck came and burly men packed our whole life into it.  I clung to my basketball, hoping for a last minute reprieve, but when my mother pried it from my hands and threw it in with our furniture, it was over.  I would no longer wander through the mountains near our home or slide down a hill of volcanic rocks.  I would never again taste the sweet nectar of the Indian paintbrush flower or listen to the coyotes howl at night.  I was saying goodbye to the fragrant alfalfa fields and a night sky full of diamonds.  There were bad things to remember, but there were also a lifetime of moments that would change the adult I might have been.

I walked to Daniel’s house.  We stood on his porch, our hands in our jean pockets and said our goodbyes.  His mother wiped tears from her eyes and gave me a hug that hurt my heart.  I promised to write Daniel and send postcards, but I never did.  Instead, I walked away from him, pausing only long enough to look back and give him a little wave.  My last memory of him is his dark eyes looking into mine as he raised his hand to return my wave.  Then he turned to go back inside.

My friends in the neighborhood told me awkward goodbyes.  I took one more peek at my babysitter’s room of Playgirl penises and Robbie gave me his favorite GI Joe to remember him by.  I lied and told him we would be back in a year.  This is just temporary, I reassured him.  A sweet lie, I thought.  I knew I would never see any of them again.  I never did find the GI Joe in any of the boxes.  I am certain it was thrown out at some point.

We flew back to Kentucky.  I swallowed the painful lump in my throat as the plane skimmed over a sea of white clouds.  There were hours of sitting in my seat, resisting the urge to scream and pretending to be excited to arrive in Kentucky.  Instead of being happy as I was swept into the arms of my aunts and uncles who cried happy tears we were home, I was lost and would remain lost for a long time.  For months, I carried a baggie of black rocks we had chiseled out of a mountainside when we first arrived.  They were that touchstone to what I left behind.

We moved in with my grandparents where we stayed for months until we rented a small house.  We would move several times, one house after another, never a home.  This nomadic wanderlust carried over to my adult life.  I have moved more times than I would like to count and never felt I belonged anywhere.  I had left my home.  It was not just a place; it was a state of mind.

My sister and I as adults talk about Arizona as if it were a shared dreamed.  She remembers less, but likes to hear the stories of our adventures there.  We prefer to file away the painful moments, the reality of what our family really went through.  We sit together and look through the pictures, capturing only a fraction of the moments etched on our brains.

I can close my eyes and see the tall sunflowers that grew beside our trailer.  I can put out my hand and feel myself petting my beloved dog Peppy who had come home to say goodbye.  He is still there, buried in the earth, beneath the sun he loved to lay in.  I can stand outside and inhale and it’s there.  That indefinable scent of the mountains, of the fresh water streams and of the heat in the soil.  I can throw my head back and taste the snowflakes on my tongue or the taste of freshwater from the springs we would swim in.  I can hear the wind blowing through the pine trees.  I am forever grateful even at a young age, I understood enough to take it all in, to hold it close because I would need it again.

There is no happy ending.  My mother did not move back to Kentucky and become happier.  My parents remained married, they weathered the storms of her depressions, and resigned themselves to the life they have chosen.  Just recently, she is once again a victim of her own life.  I watch my father, my heart breaking, sad that moving back did not fix all that was wrong with her.

As soon as I was old enough, I moved out on my own.  I worked hard and then I moved away.  I took my daughter on my journey just as my parents had taken me on theirs.  We lived in New York and she saw her first Broadway play.  We lived in Pennsylvania and went white water rafting and rock climbing.  We lived in Massachusetts and every weekend ventured out to the historic sites and the aquarium.  We lived in Rhode Island and she splashed in the cold water of the ocean and made a sand castle.  I’ve made sure her life, if not secured by belonging somewhere, was filled with memories to sustain the life she would want to build for herself.

Like my parents, I have returned to Kentucky, except this time I did not feel I was leaving anything of me behind.  I am still on that journey to find that home again.  I wish I could say it is wherever my daughter is, that would be the beautiful prosaic thing to claim.  My daughter is my life, but something else is a home for me.

I know I will find it again.  It is not out of reach.  I was offered an opportunity to move out West for work sometime in the future.  I felt a surge of something I wish I could describe.  One day I will stop moving around.  One day I will stop yearning.  One day, I will stand beneath that big sky and smile and be thankful for the journey that brought me there.  I know one day I am going to end up exactly where I am supposed to be.

This time, I will bring my daughter along and we will talk about the places we have lived and the life we have led.  Then one day, she will leave on her own journey.  There is something I‘ll make sure of, something I never had.  She may wander to find herself, but she will know I will have a home waiting for her.  Always waiting for her to find her way back.