Archive for the ‘relationship’ Category

pencils at the ready

been thinking it a while –
but is it one more step away from writing?
Or toward it?

I admitted to these very thoughts
while riding to church a few weeks ago
and wouldn’t you know it?
The morning’s passage included
immediately they left their nets.”
I like that.
(Long before Nike’s “just do it”
were the first disciples.
They were more cutting-edge than me.)

So what’s the hold-up?

I will miss the friends I’ve met in cyberspace,
not that I won’t be in cyberspace,
but I think I’ll feel only half-in.
Now that I see that in print,
I realize my thinking on that is wrong.
This hadn’t struck me before.
(This is one reason writers write, says Joan Didion,
to find out what they are thinking.)

I’ve been blogging over a decade, so it’s a hard break,
like parting with a old sweater,
too tattery to be seen in
but there are so many memories attached.
Okay, my blog isn’t that tattered.
Still, sentimentality is often the obstacle to the uncluttered life, is it not?

But mostly the hold-up
is the cry of the platform-builders,
“You must blog.”
Must I?
Did anyone actually say that
or is that how it got twisted in my mind?

I wish to say something fabulously acceptable,
such as,
I’m working on my doctorate
or going to do third-world orphanage work
or donating all my writing parts to a needy person
and so – apologies, apologies – I no longer can blog.

But I don’t have a noble cause to give as excuse.
And my faithful readers do not require it of me.

It is enough to say
I have nothing to say,
that what I have to say,
the topic closest to me right now,
the one I dedicate my peak writing time to,
which is as it should be,
doesn’t belong here,
and I belong where it is.

You are nodding. I know it.

A few times in my life I wondered how to explain to a friend a decision I made, only to discover no explanation was necessary.

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chair and pillows
not that we can’t hear each other
from where we are,
but just because.

And I leave the chair like that
even after she goes –
the whole day long –
so that every time I pass through the living room
I remember our conversation.

Having everything in order, just where it belongs, is highly overrated. :-)

SHE LET ME make her breakfast.
and said yes to the Clementines I pulled from the drawer.
We sat there peeling them,
the smell of oranges filling the room.
I liked that.

I made more coffee than was necessary,
I was pretty sure,
considering half the time she comes in, announcing,
“None for me. I’ve given it up.”
Surely, I’d be dumping most of it afterward.
I turned the coffeemaker on
a few minutes before she was due because
there’s just something about the sound and smell of coffee brewing
when a morning visitor comes through the door.
This might just be a thing I think.

We catch up on her recent trip
and my finally taking a class
and our various church stuff.
We are knee-deep into her wondering what to do
about the most negative person she’s ever known
when my phone rings.

I decline the call,
but when it rings again,
she says, “You need to take that”
and she’s right.

She slips out.

after she goes
and after the call,
I wander through.

Dirty plates are piled high with orange peels,
the furniture is askew
and the coffee pot is empty.

You can’t buy this kind of happiness.

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THE PROBLEM with all this intentionality I’ve been writing about
is that you make new friends
and then something happens to one of them.

One of the other adult volunteers
in the youth ministry
has died, and suddenly. Too young.
A very gentle soul.
Teacher. Principal.
A part of my own “coming back to life.”

I am better for having met and known him,
and will miss his voice.
Thank you, Jim.

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soups at the deli
“I’LL HAVE the chowder,” she says.
“Me, too.”
“Extra crackers, please,” she says.

I look at her,
my friend who keeps me on the straight-and-narrow,
texting in warm weather
to ask if I want to go for a bike ride,
packing picnic lunches for us
with pita to take to the park.
Fruit, a little hummus and a carrot stick.
So much better than a fat sandwich and chips, she always says.
She’s right. She’s right. I know she’s right.

I have a cadre of friends like this,
hopeful of pulling me back from the edge of self-destruction.
I keep them on because I love them, pure and simple
(but the year they went Paleo was almost the end for me,
a person who bakes bread and pie as gifts.)

I digress….

Extra crackers?
Things must be bad.

I look at her.
She looks at me, eyebrows up.
“Sure, yeah,” I say. “Me, too. Extra crackers.”
I feel the world has just tilted on its axis in a different direction.

* * *

started last year.
I make it my goal
on my day off each week,
to get together with one of my friends,
to touch base,
Not the same person every time.

Coffee, brunch, lunch, whatever.
My house, her house, someplace in town.
60 minutes perhaps, or 30 or 90.
That’s it. And then we go our separate ways.

Here’s why:
In times of crisis, I withdraw,
as all card-carrying hermits do,
but before long I am so isolated
things are worse than they need to be.
I have no thoughts beyond those in my own head.
I have no sense of the lives others are living.

* * *

when Wally was diagnosed with CLL,
I fell into one of these withdrawal modes.
Just trying to meet the demands of appointments and keep the house running
can pull a person out of circulation.

“I feel so out-of-touch with people,” I told a friend.
“You need to get on Facebook,” she said.
But you know what? Facebook didn’t help.
It didn’t address the isolation, the disconnectedness.
In fact, it increased it.

So I have this practice, the once-a-week face-to-face.
File it under “Mental Health Initiatives.”
It works well.

And though I started it
because I had a crisis that threatened to consume me,
if I was not careful and intentional,
my crisis has fallen off the headlines of our conversations.
It’s not the top topic anymore.
And now my friend is ordering extra crackers,
count me in,
and I am already in place to hear her out.

This is the second post in a week I’ve written about intentionally being around people. Hmmm.
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light switch

It’s a routine, a habit, a tic perhaps. Every day the same thing.

A small light at the far end of the kitchen signals the outside lights are on and every morning, seeing it, I am drawn through the dining room and across the length of the kitchen to the far end, to turn them off, but then…

Peering out and seeing no hint of daylight on the eastern horizon,
I leave the lights on.

From somewhere deep in the recesses comes a voice.
“Turn off the lights! Don’t you know what electricity costs?”

But I can’t do it. The road is just so dark.

“Turn them off! There’s nobody out there.”

BUT there might be, you never know.
Someone walking a dog before leaving for work
someone walking to catch a ride,
a kid with a backpack hurrying to meet the high school bus,
though that’s 7 o’clock.
(You can set your watch by that bus,
just not on snow days.)

“Your one puny light? Not making that much difference.”
Probably true, but….

I have walked in the dark
and know what it is to be glad for every porch light

and strive to get to the next one,
to get my bearings,
to keep going,

and I’ve been grateful for every person
who left one on
when they didn’t even know I was out there

I wrestle this through every morning,
this same decision,
then take my coffee
and go sit to write
until the sky lightens.

All these voices are old hat to writers. :-)

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and the dishes brought out of the cupboard, too,
but the patch of woven color helps warm.

I go to make oatmeal,
but am sidelined
by thoughts of eggs and English muffins
and before you know it
they are out of the pan,
out of the toaster,
on the plate,
please pass the butter.

I make no apologies for this indulgence only 3 days into a new year.

* * *

I RECEIVE IN THE MAIL these words:
“I loved your entire letter of the 12th, the WHOLE thing!”
and I know which one is meant
without looking it up on my computer.
It’s the one I had so much fun writing.

A reader can tell,
I learned long ago,
if the writer is interested or not.

I had said,
the day I mailed it,
“Gee, I had fun writing that one!”
I didn’t know why.
I wasn’t trying to say anything in particular,
make a point.
I was just telling about what was going on here at the moment.

“THIS is how fiction writers must feel,”
I said.
“just telling a story for the sake of telling it.”

I wrote for no purpose
and both of us enjoyed it,
What more can I ask for?

* * *

THE OTHER NIGHT I WATCHED the movie “Miss Potter
and it starts with these words:
“There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story.
You can never quite tell where they will take you.
Mine took me here, where I belong.”

It’s a good thing to be where we belong
instead of always striving to be elsewhere
and missing what’s here.
The warm woven colors, for example.

* * *

The countertops this morning are cold
and the dishes brought out of the cupboard, too.
They remind me of the past year,
how most every thought came from the cupboard cold.
But I’ve not been left alone.
Looking at my placemat,
I think of how those,
near and far,
and unaware of each other,
each as a single thread,
and were woven together
as a cushion
upon which I could set my thoughts
just as they were, no pretense.

Credit goes to the One who weaves.
Had it not been cold, I may not have noticed.

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By popular request, more discarded blog ideas! :-)



Around 3 each day,
even in the rain,
this elderly couple
comes to the Levee,
each carrying a sack of bread scraps.

Last week one day
the ducks and gulls came up to greet them
as their car pulled in –
and the man,
climbing out of the car,
gave them what-for.

“What’s wrong with you-all?
Are you stupid or something?
You know you don’t belong up here.
Forget it! You’re not getting anything.
You’re not getting a scrap until I’m down there,
so get out of my way.”

There was a lot of squawking
as they followed him
Pied-Piper style
across the brick road
and down closer to the water.

It’s interesting,
the juxtaposition
of his words
and his tender act of faithfully feeding the birds.
There are people like that,
gruff and loving, all at the same time.

What I want to know:
How do ducks distinguish between cars?

* * *


The lead story in the local paper
is about the line at the post office
these days,
Christmas a week away,
and that’s the way I like my news,
no shoes dropping.

A Qdoba opened
on a corner across from the college.

Nineteen years now
I’ve lived in Midwest
and never been quite sure
why it’s called the Midwest.
I’m guessing at one time
people thought it was midway to the edge of something,
so be careful about that next step.

I need to google that when I’m done here.
That and the duck thing.

* * *


You would think,
Christmas a week away,
I’d have more pressing things to do
than write about these things,
but all is calm and bright
and I’ve been to the Nutcracker
and an Ugly Sweater party.
I missed the neighborhood cookie exchange
on account of falling asleep 15 minutes before it started.
Next morning I put all the cookies that were on the counter in the freezer.
There are fewer now and that’s all I’m saying about that.

* * *


Pandora’s “Soft Jazz Christmas”
is going in the background this morning
and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
fills the kitchen
while I scramble eggs.
The toast pops up.
I am thinking about the angels,
how they came to announce
something really wonderful was happening,
and it was,
but you could miss it
if you weren’t paying attention
so angels were dispatched
to give a heads-up.
In the middle of it looking like nothing special is happening,
something marvelous and unbelievable can be unfolding
right under your nose,
so pay attention, Marilyn.

Oh, I am.

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