The Spring rains are upon us after a Winter that barely showed its face. I never thought I would find myself missing snow, but I did. Not the single solitary inch that disappears in a day or two. I missed the blowing, drifting, piling up snowflakes that make me happy to be indoors, warm by the fire and content to be still. The hypnotic rhythm of the wind and the view of the wild wilderness stirs me to write.
To be alone with my own thoughts.
So it is with the rain. A gentle shower, followed by a peek of sun, is a tease. I prefer the hard pelting of raindrops, starting slowly like a drippy faucet, then building into a crescendo of rushing torrents flailing against the side of the house. A flash of lightning and a rumble of thunder like a symphonic clash of cymbals and the beat of a drum. Rivulets of water rush past my adirondack chairs and there are moments when I can barely see the trees through the curtain of rain.
Errands can wait.
A good excuse.
A reason to be still.
To be alone with my thoughts.
How easy it is to become so self-centered that what we wish for, we assume everyone else will desire. Or to think that we can control the universe, one minute at a time. One drop of rain or a snowflake on our whim. Lost in our own perspective, and lost to the wants and needs of others.
What is my thunderstorm, may be someone else's flood. My wish for the rains to cease may clash with another's wish for the drought to end.
Everything we do, regardless of our own awareness,
affects the lives of others.
Years ago, I found a book. Dressed in a simple blue jacket, with a picture of a young girl, face framed by a straw hat, on its cover. The title of the book, Out of the Dust. The author, Karen Hesse.
The story setting is Oklahoma during the Great Depression,
amid the choking and desolate Dust Bowl years.
It is a moving and difficult read, but a tale of triumph of the human spirit.
I found it tucked away on my shelf here beside me,
as the rain rinsed the windows in my studio.
I was in a pacing mood today. Back and forth. Stopping and starting like a hiccup. Radio blaring. Finger tapping, knee bouncing ennui. I watched the sun go down and couldn't settle. So I sat on the floor to organize my book shelf and there was the little blue book. My bookmark, a postcard from London, tucked neatly inside.
"I miss you all".
A memory came back softly to greet me. A memory of a time before, when like tonight, I sat quietly with myself and wrote. I pulled out my portfolio book, and found what I had written, back when the longing to write, was simply a seed in the palm of my hand.
After no rain, the ground becomes hard,
The drought leaves no mark on the soil.
Clouds may gather and tiny drops fall.
The earth remains a skeptic
and the drops roll away.
Bringing no softening of the earth.
And if the rain should fall in heavy thunderous waves
The Soil, untrusting, may yet refuse to yield
Letting the moisture run in rivers
Only the steadiness of a soft continuous shower
Gently seeping into the parched cracks,
Will coax the earth to soften and let go
To allow the healing to begin,
So that once again seeds will sprout
And flowers will grow.
Only when the rain promises to return
Only then will the ground once again
Return the favor with softness underfoot
And the sight of new beginnings.
Till then whether drops or deluge
The landscape remains the same
And the dust continues to blow.
If left too long, memories die
Hardened by the waiting,
For the ground stood firm,
It was the rain that refused to come.
Please remember, as I've told you before...
And in the meantime, I have an umbrella you may borrow,
and I'd be glad to water your flowers when you're away.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
A thought came to me this morning when I sat down at the kitchen table in the light of day, to tweeze my eyebrows. I had a hunch I needed a trim, after I glanced at myself in the bathroom mirror and thought I saw Groucho Marx leering back at me.
At my age, tweezing is an elaborate ritual. I need not one, but two pairs of reading glasses and the help of a 10X magnifying mirror, while sitting directly in front of a window early in the morning so that I catch myself in the best light, metaphorically speaking.
Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close up.
I try very hard not to scream. Some of the hairs are very forward and stick straight out. Those are the easy ones to grab first. So I do, and invariably grab a few more until one eyebrow now appears to be hyphenated. So I do the "trim your bangs" exercise. You know, the one where you start to trim your bangs and one side is uneven, so you try to even things up and the next thing you know your forehead has receded completely into your scalp.
Imogene Coca Style.
If you are younger than 95, Google her.
The point is I now have two matching eyebrows that look like this....
___ ___ ___ ___
After I gather up all the hair repair and rejuvenation paraphernalia, it is time for my morning shower. This is where I would normally put my foot down, but I don't have non-skid strips underfoot, so I mutter to myself instead.
I should, repeat, should shave my legs, or...not.
This growing older business is patently unfair.
A loved one recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Bald. Not a hair on her head...or her legs...she didn't even have eyebrows...just little furrows where they would eventually grow.
I was jealous.
Mint condition. Not a hair out of place.
It seems to me that women should be like fine wine.
Improving with age.
Appreciating in value.
NOT grizzled, fossilized, decrepit, ancients.
RATHER, ripe, mature, well-developed, fully grown...Ups.
With great curb appeal, as long as you stand on the curb,
when you feel the need to get up close and personal.
My lawyer stresses the importance of having a living will.
I stress the importance of having a will to live,
but just to be annoying, I told him I wanted to add a rider.
For seasoned seniors.
I want to bequeath to my "heirs", my "hairs". I want to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of my artwork, to scientific research that insures that as women age, their countenance will be as smooth as sea glass, gently worn and eroded, rather than prickly as a cactus.
I know the secret of why "Mona Lisa" is smiling. Check out her eyebrows. I'll bet HER reading glasses are tucked under her hands, and she is sitting on her TWEEZERS. No? Look for yourself. I bet she even has one chin hair. She's just waiting for her best friend to point it out.
Lest you think I am unappreciative of this sweet life I have been given, let me straighten you out.
A month ago, I tried to use my senior discount on a purchase and they asked for ID.
Carded. I was carded!
So, as to my continuing will and testament, let me put it this way. I guess pulling out a few weeds and tending to a bit of pruning is not such a bad way to spend one's time.
I am appreciating...
every single minute...
...just like that fine wine...
Full bodied and with an excellent bouquet.
That's garden speak for all of us women of a certain age.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Welcome to Team Chocolate. Let the games begin. I can tell that it is March because I am salivating. I have the itch. Can smell the aroma. The sweet bouquet of sweet nothings I am about to whisper in your ear.
I am desperately trying to maintain decent dessert decorum, but one whiff of you-know-what and I am not to be trifled with...this is serious business.
Think of it.
An entire month to sit on the sofa and watch, listen, read, absorb, partake, taste, jump, scream, yell and sample those mouthwatering edible gifts.
Chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mid day snacks. Treats. Ladylike bites. Forkfuls. Handfuls. Boxes. Plates. Cartons. Slices. Layers. Bags and bags and bags.
Chunks and morsels and curls and double doubles and triple ripple.
Are you ready for some chocolate?
Are you really ready?
Do you have your game face on?
Have you made your picks? Done your homework?
I have. I'm ready. Here are my brackets.
Cookies versus Cake.
Brownies versus Tarts
Icing versus Glaze
Fudge versus Frosting.
Semisweet versus Bittersweet.
Chocolate chunk versus Cookie dough.
Black forest versus Molten lava.
Milk versus Dark.
Sprinkles versus Curls.
Syrup versus Hot fudge.
Bars versus morsels.
Assorted chocolates versus Chocolate covered cherries.
Mousse versus trifle.
I am having trouble typing because my fingers keep slipping off the keys and I think I am about to go into glycemic shock, but it feels sooooo good...I think I just committed a flagrant foul by putting sprinkles AND curls on my chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream layer cake.
Oh dear...a technical for picking out all the buttercreams from the box of assorted chocolates.
Uh and please excuse the incidental contact. I was only trying to rip open the bag with my teeth and then all the M&M's hit the floor and I threw an elbow, but the shot clock was running down, I needed an assist, and you just sat there staring. What??!!!
Too bad for you because the possession arrow just pointed in my direction, a full court press, quick pivot and I am in for the lay up.
Ha! A piece of cake. A triple chocolate cheesecake.
I am one tough cookie. Dunk? No thanks, I like my double chunk chocolate chip cookies with ganache not panache.
Overtime? YES YES YES
Face it. Can you feel the craving? Have you got the urge? The desire? The Appetite?
Welcome to the Madness!
I think I feel a bit confused.
I'll be okay.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to eat chocolate and feel CRANKY at the same time!
Can I have a show of hands?
Yup. Thought so.
Let the March Madness Chompionships begin.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
It is late at night and I am lying in bed staring at the alarm clock. TWO AM. I can hear the ice cube maker rattling in the kitchen. I am aware of the sigh of the furnace leaking through the vent near the foot of my bed. I have restless restlessness syndrome. Off go the covers.
I am too hot.
Maybe another blanket 'cause now I'm too cold.
Okay. I'll read. I pull out a book, fluff up my pillows and snuggle down. Yes. This is more like it.
Wait. Maybe I could have some cheese and crackers.
Off to the kitchen. Well, let's see, maybe cheese and crackers and a few pretzels and some leftover chicken. I carry my loaded plate and fumble through the darkness.
I am alone in my house. All the significant others are on the road tonight. Too late to call anyone and the truth is I was looking forward to the solace. It's good to be alone sometimes. To putter and mess around doing just what you feel like doing or doing nothing at all. Like NOT making your bed, or painting your toenails fire engine red and dancing to the oldies on the radio.
Eating cheese and crackers in bed at TWO AM while reading a good book is an adventure. Or it should be. However, now I have crackers in the sheets and under the pillow, so I am shaking out my bedclothes, sweeping the crumbs onto the floor. Now I am getting out the vacuum cleaner to sweep up the cracker crumbs, and I stub my toe on the bedpost. As I sit on the floor rubbing my sore toe, I glance under the bed and see dust motes huddled in fear and loathing. So I make my way back into the kitchen pantry to fumble around for the attachment for the vacuum. You know where this is going, right? I am lying on my stomach dueling with dust motes that don't stand a chance against my determination.
I stand. Victorious. I have vanquished the errant crumbs and the sneaky dust devils.
As I rewind the cord to the vacuum, I check the time.
Two. Oh. Ten. A and M.
Yes. I remember. The rules of the insomniac's road. First, get out of bed and do something useful.
Two, climb back in bed, close your eyes and lie perfectly still.
I open one eye. I spy the little light flashing on the smoke detector in the ceiling. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Rhythmic little winks.
I open my other eye. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Something in me relaxes. I shake out my fists. Unclench my jaw.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
It's talking to me I think.
One means YES. Two blinks means NO.
Remember, it's just me here. No one can see. So I start up a conversation.
Asking, I say, can't hurt. Maybe it can actually help.
Wishing isn't foolish, it's just a way to visualize what seems at the time, impossible.
Catching one's breath helps slow down the scary thoughts.
And talking to a smoke detector in the middle of the night is perfectly normal.
Got it. Think I'll go out and stand on the porch. In the moonlight.
Find me a star.
And make a wish.
Because...things are not always what they seem. Once in awhile, what looks like a star in the night sky is actually a door left slightly ajar...
...opening to let a ball of light, a tiny burst of energy, to escape and land smack dab in the middle of the empty place that needs filling.
To bed, on the wings of a wish and a prayer.
Safe and sound.
Everyone needs a night light now and then.