Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Writing 101, Day Twenty: Treasured Gift of Time

There is a time for letting go.
To purge and simplify.
Casting forward once beloved things.
Enriching someone else’s treasure store.

Time to love the sunbeam’s light
Streaming bright as jewels.
Bird-song concert, flowers’ canvas.
Nature’s treasures free of any charge.

Days to be at peace in seat-worn chair passed down.
Soft lighted lamp welcomes the fall of night.
Cup of tea for body’s warmth and cheer.
Comfort now a gift beyond compare.


Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop The Rockin’

This a perfect day to free write. My grandchildren Aidan and Mia arrived and I knew I wouldn’t get to writing until mid afternoon. And I didn’t know how much energy I would have left.

Being a grandmother is not something I know a lot about. My mother’s mother died when I was two and my dad’s mother died when I was six months old. My mother died when my oldest son was seven. Hence we had not much collective experience when I became a grandmother myself. I come at it with a Zen mind. I know that I’m not the cookie baking type, or the knitting sweater type. I had to make it up as I went along. I moved to the city where they live to give being a grandma a last-ditch, full blown try.

My son, the Mister Mom in his family, is working in the morning and asked me to take care of his kids on Thursday. All summer. I didn’t know how I would do it but said yes anyway. I figured I could wing it if necessary. They showed up at eight o’clock this morning equipped with game toys, I pads, books and a tech sort of thing that can be used as an alarm clock. I told them that their dad said I should get myself into the 21st Century. They laughed. I have a Kindle so I got out my Kindle to be a techie, too. When I let them in the apartment I had been checking email. I welcomed them. told them to make themselves at home, and went back to my computer. When I got back in the living room where they and their stuff had settled, they were quietly playing a game. Okay. I got the puzzle page from the morning newspaper and worked on the puzzle. They moved on to books. It was very quiet. Okay, now what. I had believed that we as a group would find our group dynamic so I waited. Mia’s gadget sent its alarm and that broke the tension(if there was any). We moved into a more conversational mode. I told them what to expect from the day. That we were going to Boston Market for lunch. Silence. That their dad told me they liked chicken, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. They still said nothing. What’s up. Then my grandson Aidan asked me what size the place was. I thought and said about the size of my living room. He said he was picturing a huge food court from the word “market”. He does not like crowds. I laughed. What a lesson on communication and thinking my words communicate what I think they do. He was fine after he asked his question and had my assurance we were not going to have lunch in a cavernous space with noisy crowds of people.


Writing 101, Day Eighteen – Scents and Then Again, Smells

All around me and always I’m immediately aware of sound, colors, the feel of things, and tastes. In the present scent can delight the senses and also trigger memories. Smell is a subcategory of scent, important and impossible to ignore.

I haven’t lived in my apartment long enough for it to have developed a distinctive scent for me – like a long-lived-in home has. For Christmas I received a bright green candle with a pungent pine scent that lingered after I extinguished it. I breathed in the scent daily and was sorry when the candle guttered out. I replaced it with a peach colored candle that is supposed to have a mango scent but is too faint to make much of an impression. Then there is my Williams-Sonoma Winterberry hand lotion that has a cinnamon scent good enough to taste. Rubbing it on my hands is almost as good as a having a small snack. In my kitchen there are few scents. Lean Cuisine in the microwave doesn’t count.

Scents can take me like a magic carpet to places in my past. The scent of the Shalimar perfume my college room-mate wore which made me open the windows after she left on a date. The scent of Vix Vaporub my mother used to rub on my chest when I had an asthma attack as a child. The scent of the lilac tree in our backyard in early spring after dark. I couldn’t resist burying my nose in its branches. The spicy scent of the apple sauce cake baking that my mother always made for my birthday.

And then there are smells. Smells alert us to things and give us information. Like the “sniff test” I gave my baby’s bottom to see if a diaper change was in order. And the unmistakable smell that a change was long overdue. The smell that assailed me in the locker room one day when my son and his team mates were putting on their hockey gear that told me the little boys were becoming fledgling teenagers. The terrible odor, worse than a smell, that led me to where our turtle Alfalfa, a gimpy Georgia box turtle, had crawled off to die. The smell of a scorched pan when I cooked my first supper as a young bride.


Writing 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page – What Do I Fear

Each one had been longed for and wondrously delivered to my care – for a season.
Ever since they were three teenagers,
Out exploring and claiming their world,
I’ve known that my greatest fear is losing a son.

I have memories of mishaps.

The time I closed the garage door automatically from the kitchen
And when I reopened it out came my son riding on his Big Wheel.
Thank goodness I hadn’t closed the door on him.

Or when one son, horsing around outside, pushed his brother into a window-well,
Breaking the silence of our adult evening meal with the crash of glass splintering.
No one was hurt.

Or the time a son, sledding on a neighborhood hill, colliding with rocks at the bottom,
Appeared at our door, dazed, carried in the kind arms of a stranger,
Bleeding stanched by the man’s clean white handkerchief.

I’m not afraid of mishaps.
Only later did I begin to taste fear.

Following his own trail in the Alleghany Forest, my teenage son got separated from his dad overnight on a camping trip.
A telephone call reported his loss to me. Rangers and dogs were searching.
Meanwhile my lost son, happening upon a dirt road, walked along and found his searchers.
He maintained that his dad was the lost one. He knew where he was. No one was afraid but me.

Another son, a newly-minted college graduate, went West to seek his fortune.
Luggage lost by airline, sleeping on the couch of friend too poor to afford a phone,
Trying to set up job interviews on a pay phone, no luck there,
Coming down with mono, coming back home. This time I wasn’t afraid, but my heart ached dreadfully.

My youngest son was still at home when I left him in his father’s care to spend weeks away pursuing a new degree.
I never imagined mothers were so necessary. He let me know. He acted out.
He and a friend took a screw driver to break into the Junior High building. They set off the alarm, calling the police.
Police turned them over to the Principal, who disciplined them ordering Community peer counseling. My son taught me a new lesson about fear.

My first reaction to my son’s acting out was to give up going back to school and go home. I was afraid of not being a good mother.
I thought further and decided that his being the catalyst for my giving up my dream was a burden I didn’t want him to carry.
That was a huge step for me – trusting I loved him, and myself, enough to make this decision.
I let go of being afraid of marching to my own drumbeat.

My sons are grown. I still fear for their well-being and disappointments, whatever lies ahead. But I trust life and their ability to manage its challenges.
And I celebrate what we’ve taught each other about fear.


Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Serial Killer III – Lost/Found on a Greyhound Bus

Before Amtrak and speeding views of the passing countryside,
Before planes with views of sky and clouds, if you had a window seat,
Before SUV’s and RV’s with indoor plumbing,
There was the ubiquitous Greyhound Bus. People rode the bus.

Folks packed a lunch, stuff to read or word puzzles to while away the time (before Nintendo or iPods).
Some slept or slept it off after a night of partying.
Some shed covert tears at the death of a loved one, a marriage over.
Some were homesick already at leaving home for the first time.

The bus becomes a stage for great and small dramas of human life.
Things lost are remembered. Haunting dreams of things longed for fill minds and aching hearts.
Things found revive tired, empty people with possibilities.
Things like a new job, a fiancé and a diamond ring, a vacation revealing new vistas promise hope.

I am the cosmic repository for things lost and things found.
I hold close all lost things – treasures of memory that warm us at night. Building blocks of tomorrow.
I open my hands. Things found will fly into a world waiting for surprise and be transformed.
“To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – T.S. Eliot


Monday Morning Gymnastics

I look at the clock and decide I’ve had enough sleep – time to get up. I put my feet on the floor, stand up and check out my bad knee. Seems in working order. Test my balance walking over to the window to open the blinds. I made it. I’m working up a head of steam now. Next comes coffee to rev-up my circulation. But first another hurdle. I challenge myself to sit down in my morning coffee armchair without holding onto the arms. With my full cup of coffee in one hand this wouldn’t be a good idea anyway. I look behind me to be sure I’ll land in the middle of the seat and slowly let myself down exercising my thigh muscles. Aha! I did it. I’m batting 1000.

After coffee it’s time to get the New York Times which on Monday’s and Tuesday’s isn’t delivered to my apartment door. I do not tax my brain trying to understand why. I take the elevator down to the lobby (Using the stairs would be great exercise but is hard on knees.) The newspapers, all four of them, for my neighbors who also subscribe and me, are lined up with our apartment numbers written on them with a black Magic Marker. They are always there, in numerical order, in the vestibule beyond the door with the buzzer for visitors to be let in. It takes a special key for inhabitants to get in. I let myself into the vestibule and wedge a bedroom slipper into the door so I can get back into the lobby without using my key. I bend down and gather the four papers. I have volunteered to be the paper woman because I am the one most able to bend down.I make it back inside and leave the papers for my neighbors on a convenient table – lined up in numerical order.

Now for breakfast. Time to wrestle with opening a new box of cereal. I can manage the paper box. It’s the tightly sealed inner bag that gets me. Why don’t they come up with easy-open bags, like easy-open caps on arthritis pain relievers? Cereal box opened I move onto my next exercise = getting the gallon container of milk out of the refrigerator and pouring milk on my cereal. I have friends who buy only half-gallons of milk but I’m not ready to give up just yet.

Finally, breakfast over, I settle myself in my reading chair (not to be confused with my coffee drinking chair) for my favorite part of the morning – solving the word puzzles in the paper. Exercising my brain is absolutely tops on my work-out list. Since the local newspaper that carries the puzzle section, delightfully named “Diversions”, no longer has a print edition everyday, Monday and Tuesday’s puzzle sections appear in the Friday paper. Go figure. Today, however, I won’t be doing word puzzles. I accidentally got the puzzle section mixed up with my recycling and took it down to the garage on Saturday. I’m going to have to exercise my brain harder so I don’t make that mistake again.


P.S. To Writing 101, Day Fifteen, Being Found By Your Voice – Whatever

I have written a completely new post for this assignment that probably did not come to anyone’s attention. Instead of writing a New Post I deleted my original one and reused the same space. Being Green isn’t always the best way to go. When I read my post from yesterday I recognized my old voice which I’m heartily tired of. I gave up for a while and then sat back down at my computer. I feel really good about my new post. It is spoken by the voice I’m growing into.

You can find my revision under the title Writing 101, Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You – Actually I Think It Did.

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Writing 101, Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You – Actually I Think It Did

Annual conferences are a thing of the past for me. I don’t remember when I stopped going, or even why. Being with crowds of people no longer appeals to me. I now live in the smallness of things.

Several years ago a row of one-story businesses around the corner from my townhouse, including a two-story car garage that extended to just behind my backyard fence, was scheduled for demolition. A seventeen-story apartment building was to replace the little businesses. We, the inhabitants of the townhouses, were distraught over the impending loss of light and our view of the city skyline. I had recently experienced the sudden loss of vision of my left eye and was adjusting to a new way of seeing. There was a lot of change all at once.

Brick walls were the first to go in the demolition process. I walked over to the lot to investigate and found the man who was re-moving the bricks talking to the manager of the wrecking crew. I learned that the bricks were destined for New Orleans to become part of rebuilding the city after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. I spent two years in New Orleans when I was in college there. I visited the city shortly after the hurricane as a concerned friend to see how everyone was doing. I marveled at the recycling of my neighbor’s torn-down bricks in the process of rebuilding the city.

I don’t have to leave home to participate in events of the universe. They arrive at my door. It only takes opening my eyes to what is going on around me.


Writing 101,Day Fourteen: From Page 29 of the New Century Vest-Pocket Dictionary- Athirst

Of course the book nearest to me at my computer desk would be my pocket-sized dictionary. I turn to page 29 which consists of two columns of 50 words each, beginning with “astrological” and ending with “attacking”. Second from the bottom of the left hand column is the word “athirst”. I don’t remember using it in writing and certainly not in speech. It is a pristine word that holds no contemporary meaning for me. Or so I thought.

I let it rest within me for a while and then heard it singing the line ” You are the promised kiss of springtime” from the song “All the Things You Are.” Oh no, we’re not going there again. Once upon a time my girl friends and I spent early spring afternoons driving along roads near the cotton fields surrounding our small town. The radio played songs like that and I yearned for somebody to sing the words to me. Even today when I hear that song I am athirst with longing for something I can’t define.

Well, I do recognize the feeling. I sensed it yesterday. It’s a yearning for romance – whatever on earth that is. I have the common sense to realize it is a figment of my imagination. And the wisdom to be thankful for my delightful and well-ordered single life. And still I am athirst for the possibility of something that may happen only in story books, but seems altogether real. That’s it! Its like one definition of a myth as something that never really happened and yet is always true. Romance is the stuff of dreams and movies and good books. It’s the hope that something wonderful will happen in the midst of an ordinary day. It’s finding silver linings in situations that don’t go so well. It’s believing that even if practically speaking your romantic years are over, they really aren’t. Being athirst is where the possibilities begin.


Writing 101, Day Thirteen: Serial Killer II – At the End of the Yellow Brick Road

A fierce gust of honesty with myself blew me onto this road. Something as simple and true as longing for my family hit me with the realization that if I did not leave my second husband I would regret it at my life’s end. My marriage to him was full of illusions. It was time to look this thing in the eye, take a deep breath, and sally forth.

I landed in an apartment on the fourth floor of The Greenbriar that my daughter-in-law found for me. From my windows in summer I can see the upper branches of an oak tree where squirrels build their nests, the garden patio, and the blue, blue water of the swimming pool. What I like best about the pool, besides getting into it, is the sound of children having fun and the smell of food cooking on the gas grill by the patio tables. The patio in winter has a beauty all its own.

In the apartment lobby there is a round glass table where tenants leave things they don’t want anymore, a sort of impromptu rummage sale where everything is free. I call it the “manna table”. I’ve acquired a beautiful cobalt blue bottle and a Chinese vase that I put on my window ledge. In late December when I was in need of a calendar for the New Year I found an AARP calendar on the table, which now hangs on my kitchen wall. It’s a great place to re-gift things.

I love this place – the view from my windows, the fun of the pool, the whimsical extras like the manna table. (I haven’t told you how all-out the apartment managers go decorating the lobby for the holidays. It’s wild.) My daughter-in-law found me a great place to live. It is a wish come true to be near family. Neither one of us had any idea that I would find a whole life of my own as well.

Shortly after I moved in I joined a group of women who play word games in the afternoon. Most of them moved here after the death of a spouse years ago. I’m practically the baby of the bunch and I was seventy-five when I met them. We’ve all chosen to leave behind houses. We expect to live here for the foreseeable future. That’s a given. We accept ourselves as marvelously gifted with still being alive. We share belly laughs over things we forget that we expect to recall later, and do. We pay little attention to the shape of aging bodies and the accompanying inconveniences. We live in the moment playing our game – flexing broad vocabularies gained from years of reading, creating words, even making up words not in the Scrabble dictionary. We are loose with rules. And we collaborate with each other, in myriad ways. We recognize ourselves as an NORC, or Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. I’m still healthy and able to be independent – for now. When that changes I will not be alone. My family will not be alone either. We will have the love and support of my Greenbriar friends.

I’m amazed to have found a new life for myself. I always believed that there must be something worth while about the last stages of life, or why did they exist? I didn’t imagine the freedom of these years, the audacity of saying what’s on my mind. the joy in small things, the love I experience for the peoples and lands of the earth that overwhelms me, the tears I weep for those who suffer. I am deeply grateful to be alive.