Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 30 The End!!!

I've done it. I've posted something everyday this month. I can't say it my best writing. I can say having a deadline did kind of jump start my productivity.

It would be nice to continue the daily practice. I wonder what the chances are of actually doing it.  As if blogging every day isn't enough, I've kind of/sort of joined another community that requires daily participation. What that means is I signed up to get a word from the Society of St. John the Evangelist (www.ssje.org) as an Advent meditation, but the chances of me taking a photo or adding to the global Advent calendar are pretty slim. I have, however, thought about today's word, "look" off and on all day.

If I wanted to continue with self-imposed discipline of daily blogging NaBloMoPo continues throughout the year. Each month has a theme. December's theme is joy. It sounds like a pretty easy thing to write about. The trouble is when I'm tired and stressed, shopped til I'm fed up to my eyebrows just for a parking space, baked and decorated and wrapped until I can't see straight, it's hard to see the joy, much less have the energy to fake write about it.  Joy is all around. I know it is. Seeing it and embracing it is where I get stuck.

Joy doesn't usually come knocking on my door to announce itself. It's more like an Easter egg hunt. You have to look over, under and around for it. Sometimes it's right out in the open like bathrobe clad shepherds in a child's Christmas pageant. Or the Salvation Army bell ringer that has stood in front of the same grocery store for 3 years and acts as if he remembers your name. Other times it's hidden in an old person's smile as he reaches up to place the same tarnished star that's been on the family Christmas tree for over 60 years.

"Aha," as Oprah would say. The magic of joy comes from keeping one's eyes and heart open to it. For example,  pulling 10 boxes of decorations down from the attic is, excuse my unholiday French, a pain in the ass. Yet, as each box of treasures is opened, memories of Christmases past fill the room like the smell of ginger cookies baking. You have to look inside the boxes to find the joy.  I'm guessing those wisemen from years ago got pretty darn tired of riding their camels and sleeping on the hard ground as they looked into the night sky for the Star that would lead to a Bethlehem cow barn. But don't you know their hearts burst with joy at the sight they beheld - shepherds and angels, Mary and Joseph all circling a crib that held the "peace"filled Christ child. A gloriously joyful gift to be sure.

Three months after my mother died my father and I worked together to line our front yard with sand-filled paper bags for the annual luminary lighting. Dad's hip hurt, so he directed me in the fine details of exactly where to place the bags. I was under the impression you walk to the neighbor's drive way and drop the bags where it looked like they belonged. I had no idea there was measuring and counting involved. By the time we were through I was ready to place a bag of sand squarely on Dad's head. All it took to turn my anger into bittersweet joy was seeing the street lined with twinkling lights and knowing ours were perfectly placed, like the candles that would have been on my mother's birthday cake.

 I actually have another reason to write about joy. I've been paired up with a facebook friend to check in with and share some holiday comfort and merriment. Guess what her name is.  Joy.
Do you think my muse has conspired to keep me writing. We'll have to wait and see.

For now I bid you goodnight.
Merry ME

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 29 - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Sweetie and I went to watch the annual boat parade on the St. John's River tonight. Near the top of a high rise apartment building, the family I work for literally has a bird's eye view of the river. At this time of year small children tend to take a double look when Sweetie walks by. Even without a red suit trimmed in fur, he looks pretty much like the real Santa.

Bella doesn't really get what all the fa la la ing is all about but she's beginning to understand there is something different in the air. She's picked up that there is some kind of connection between the tree with lights and ornaments, jingle bells and Santa Claus. She likes the pretty lights, but the mall Santa is down right scary. She wanted nothing to do with him.

So we were all pleasantly surprised when she walked into the living room where Sweetie (it's been over a year since she's seen him) was standing and said, without missing a beat, "Christmas!" She kept her distance and walked a wide berth in the beginning. I watched as she got closer and closer. Before long she offered Sweetie her dog. A true sign that he had passed inspection. He wasn't so scary after all.

Before we left, Bella asked Sweetie to pick her up. It was one of those heart melting moments for me. Forget the lit up boats, the chill in the air, the Christmas tree lots and the Salvation Army bell ringers, for me the Christmas season began right then. It wasn't a stable, there were no shepherds, but two of my favorite people sitting together discussing who knows what looked pretty much like love to me. That's what Christmas is all about, isn't it?

May it be so.
Merry ME

Bella and Christmas

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 28 The Day After Thanksgiving

Blame it on the tryptophan.
Blame it on the quiet that descended as the last guest left last night.
Blame it on memories of Thanksgivings past.

To everything there is a season …. holidays have their anticipatory excitement and all good things must end doldrums. 

I'm feeling rather sluggish today. Just thinking about shoppers waiting in line for Black Friday sales this morning makes me tired. The sun is setting while a small breeze causes the elephant ears in the back yard to sway. 

As I put away Mama's gold trimmed china this morning, I was aware of missing her. I'd felt it resting on my shoulder for most of yesterday, too. She's been gone for 12 years. That's 12 Thanksgivings, 12 birthdays and 12 Christmases we have had without her.  Even when she still sat in her traditional place at the head of the table, I did the cooking so it's not like I haven't had practice being the Thanksgiving Maven. I wanted her to be the Maven.

I realized last night that there has been a changing of the guard in the family dynamics. The next generation has taken over the table conversations, which did not include politics or dividing lines. My nephew even noted that he's made it to the adult end of the table while his mom, step dad, Sweetie and I were seated at what used to be the children's table. The boys men discussed giant TV screens at the football stadium and hipsters. When I admitted I don't know what a "hipster" is, cell phones were whipped out to show pictures of modern millennials who wear straight legged pants they buy at thrift stores and carry a satchel bag. I'm pretty sure there's more to being a hipster than that, but I couldn't tell you what. It seems there is a hipster movement in the Bold New City of the South where I live. Who knew?  Without a doubt there is going to be some cultural shock between the hipsters and the good ol' boys.

While the conversation was beyond my comprehension, the laughter appeared to bounce off the painted family tree in the background and echo back into the room where 3 generations have share a holiday meal since 1962.

I loved having the small group of in town family here. Still I was nostalgic for the years when many more of us were together, where conversations went on in every room of the house and one had to visit each one to keep up with all the goings on. When I saw the news reports of the icky weather, flight delays and cancellations, I wondered to myself why people put themselves through that hassle. As I peeled the potatoes in silence, my questions were answered. I think it should be a rule that holiday kitchens bustle with activities shared by many. The more the merrier should be a holiday motto.

While I'm on my things-that-have-changed-when-I-wasn't-looking rant, what's up with the Macy's parade? What happened to the camera eye view of floats and balloons coming down the avenue? I'm not a fan of the staged events in front of the NBC headquarters.

It all adds up, I'm a  sad to say, to feeling old. Not so old that I'm the one sitting on the couch complaining of all the noise. But old enough to hold fast to traditions that I'm not ready to change. At 62 years old, I still wish Mom was in the kitchen, Dad was drinking coffee at the breakfast table, and I was sitting in front of the magical parade waiting anxiously awaiting the first sight of Santa.

All that said, I'm grateful for the family, food, and laughter.
What was the best part of your day?
Merry ME

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 27 - Happy Thanksgiving



Counting Our Blessings: Why We Say Grace
By Anne Lamott


NOVEMBER 28, 2013 – 8:00 AM –
No matter how you say it, grace can transform an ordinary meal into a celebration—of family, love, and gratitude.


We didn’t say grace at our house when I was growing up because my parents were atheists. I knew even as a little girl that everyone at every table needed blessing and encouragement, but my family didn’t ask for it. Instead, my parents raised glasses of wine to the chef: Cheers. Dig in. But I had a terrible secret, which was that I believed in God, a divine presence who heard me when I prayed, who stayed close to me in the dark. So at 6 years old I began to infiltrate religious families like a spy—Mata Hari in plaid sneakers.


One of my best friends was a Catholic girl. Her boisterous family bowed its collective head and said, “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. …” I was so hungry for these words; it was like a cool breeze, a polite thank-you note to God, the silky magnetic energy of gratitude. I still love that line.


I believed that if your family said grace, it meant you were a happy family, all evidence to the contrary. But I saw at certain tables that an improvised grace could cause friction or discomfort. My friend Mark reports that at his big southern childhood Thanksgivings, someone always managed to say something that made poor Granny feel half dead. “It would be along the lines of ‘And Lord, we are just glad you have seen fit to keep Mama with us for one more year.’ We would all strain to see Granny giving him the fisheye.”


I noticed some families shortened the pro forma blessing so they could get right to the meal. If there were more males than females, it was a boy chant, said as one word: “GodisgreatGodisgoodletusthankHimforourfoodAmen.” I also noticed that grace usually wasn’t said if the kids were eating in front of the TV, as if God refused to listen over the sound of it.


And we’ve all been held hostage by grace sayers who use the opportunity to work the room, like the Church Lady. But more often, people simply say thank you—we understand how far short we must fall, how selfish we can be, how self-righteous, what brats. And yet God has given us this marvelous meal.


It turns out that my two brothers and I all grew up to be middle-aged believers. I’ve been a member of the same Presbyterian church for 27 years. My older brother became a born-again Christian—but don’t ask him to give the blessing, as it can last forever. I adore him, but your food will grow cold. My younger brother is an unconfirmed but freelance Catholic.


So now someone at our holiday tables always ends up saying grace. I think we’re in it for the pause, the quiet thanks for love and for our blessings, before the shoveling begins. For a minute, our stations are tuned to a broader, richer radius. We’re acknowledging that this food didn’t just magically appear: Someone grew it, ground it, bought it, baked it; wow.


We say thank you for the miracle that we have stuck together all these years, in spite of it all; that we have each other’s backs, and hilarious companionship. We say thank you for the plentiful and outrageous food: Kathy’s lox, Robby’s bûche de Noël. We pray to be mindful of the needs of others. We savor these moments out of time, when we are conscious of love’s presence, of Someone’s great abiding generosity to our dear and motley family, these holy moments of gratitude. And that is grace.


Anne Lamott’s book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, is in stores now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 26

Chex Mix - check
Pumpkin pie - check
Clam Dip - check
Fruit salad that nobody cares for except me - check

I think I've got a pretty good head start on the cooking.
19 pounds of turkey, potatoes, and beans yet to go.

I ready for bed.

Instead of counting sheep, I'm going to count my blessings,
Merry ME

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 25

I feel like I got a lot done today but when Sweetie asked me what, I could only name one thing.

My day started with the thing all women look forward to - my annual exam. To my dismay my weight had not changed much but I've lost 2 inches. Now I understand why my back hurts all the time. Where would those 2 inches have gone, except to pile up on each other like an LA traffic jam at the base of my spine.

As I assumed the position my doctor says, "so this could be your last pap." I was caught a bit off guard. I certainly wasn't in a place where I could do a happy dance. But it does seem like this is a cause for celebration, doesn't it? Apparently the people who make the rules on this kind of thing have determined if you have a history of negative paps and no HPV, then you only need the test every 5 years and none after the age of 65.  I'm not sure what kind of party to have, but cake will definitely be on the menu.

The rest of the day was spent either in the kitchen or at the computer. It appears the only thing I have to show for the time spent, is a batch of Chex Mix which is a part of any Reynolds family get together and a few loads of laundry that still need to be folded. I'll bake a pie tomorrow morning before I go to work, and maybe set the table. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the turkey thaws in time.

So there you have it folks, another rip roaring day in the life of Merry ME.

Tonight, for the first time since it happened, I listened to news reports of the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo. It is ironic, isn't it, that the holiday set aside for gratitude comes on the heels of such fury. Perhaps, there's no irony at. Maybe we all need to dig down past broken hearts and spirits to find a place of thanksgiving for what we have. Maybe gratitude is where healing begins.

Merry ME

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 24 Kindness Exchange

I saw this video of comedian Michael Jr. posted on a friend's Facebook today. It really struck a chord with me.

And it goes right along with Josh Urban's Kindness Exchange. The premise of which is to do a random act of kindness. It's that easy. Then you post your good deed at something called #kindness exchange, and Josh hangs a tag on a tree in his front yard that is illuminated with red lights to be a beacon of kindness for all to see. 

Here's the cool thing about the Kindness Exchange. You don't have to know Josh. IT's cool if you do, cause he's a pretty amazing guy, but you don't have to.  You can do the same thing right in your own city or neighborhood. Think what it might be like if, for the rest of the year, when the spirit of Chrismas is often overshadowed by shopping, pushing, shoving, wrapping, baking, mailing, swearing, and crying. Not to mention all the family dysfunction that often drowns out the Christmas carols.  If all of us keep our eyes open for opportunities to be kind to others, it's got to make for a happier holiday season all around, don't you think?

In the words of Michael Jr. "Look for an opportunity to give."

I like that idea. What about you?
Merry ME

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day 23 An Altar to my Life

With regards to my previous post (see below) I'd like to make sure you all know I was in no way  judging people for the way their house looks or the way they do things. I was simply making an observation. 

What's wrong with being orderly, Sweetie asked me this morning. I told him, as I'm telling you now, there's nothing wrong with being orderly. In fact there's a lot right about it. It's the way he is, not the way I am. 


____

So now that we've got that straight, I'm off on another subject.


Today on Facebook, Numinous Jane (www.numinousjane.com) posted this picture and question...







"If you could make an altar to your life what would be on it? How would the grace of you show up? "

Dictionary.com defines an altar as a mound or table where religious rites are performed or sacrifices are made to the gods. It also says an altar is the table used in the celebration of communion (of the Lord's Supper).

In the past I've thought of having an altar in my house, a place to put things to remind me of the Divine One and His/Her gifts. I like the idea of having a place to go to light a candle and say a prayer for someone or something. I like the idea, but I've never done it. I wonder why? 

I've never thought of making an altar to my life. For most of the day in the back of my mind, I've asked why I would need or deserve an altar. The idea of it sounds like I'm putting myself on the same level as God and that feels uncomfortable. After much pondering I finally came up with is this … if it is true (and I believe it is) that I am made in the image of God, that the light of God is in me, then making an altar of my life would actually be a place to honor the reflection of God in me.  I'm okay with that.  I think God would be okay with that.

As I was typing this, I read the question more carefully. It asks about an altar to my life, not me. I think there is a distinction to be made there. An altar to my life would, in essence be a place to honor the life God has given me. What better place to celebrate communion than at a place set aside for the things that give my life meaning. 

How would the grace of me show up? Hmmm, another question that takes some thinking. A synonym of grace is sanctification. One of the definitions of sanctification is to entitle to reverence or respect. So would another way of asking the question be what parts of me do I think are entitled to respect? 

On my altar I'd have candle to call in the light. I'd have a heart rock, symbolizing  love; a pen or pencil to symbolize I'm a writer; a baby cup or shoe to symbolize motherhood; a rock or shell to represent the world beyond me; a feather to remind me to soar, and a plant to keep me grounded; a bookmark to hold my place; a bell to call me home; a red bird to symbolize life long partnership; a tulip for beauty; a Coke, a sewing needle, and a stamped envelope; a cross and a prayer. If there was any room left maybe I'd stick on a tube of arthritis cream and a Prozac. 

I think tomorrow I'll start collecting these items. I know exactly where I'll set up my altar. I like this idea. How about you? What would be on your altar? How would the grace of you show up?

May you be blessed with the knowing of you,
Merry ME

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 22 If these walls could talk….

When I get off work at 8 pm I usually turn into the Oprah channel on the XM radio and listen to the Jenn Berrman show. Dr. Jenn is a psychotherapist who gives advice to people who call in with relationship problems. She's not necessarily a kinder, gentler Dr. Laura, but I don't think she's as in your face as Dr. Laura could be.

On almost every show I've heard, no matter what the problem, Dr. Jenn suggests a full year of weekly individual therapy. I happen to know the power of this kind of intensive self seeking therapy. I just wonder who's got that kind of insurance and time anymore.

The other night Dr. Jenn talked to a woman who asked whether or not she should stay with a person who wasn't as clean as she is. After asking some questions, Dr. Jenn told this story about how she and three other people did a show on A&E.  They'd go into a person's house and after a day or two,  they could tell what that person is like. I may not have all the details right, but that's the gist of it.

Dr. Jenn said that it never failed that the house was a reflection of the person, i.e. if the house was in disarray, chances were pretty good that the person was in chaos of some kind. I can see how that would be true and I'm no psychotherapist. It seems like a no brainer. For instance, the couple I work for keep a very neat and tidy home. Everything is in it's place. If it's not, it's being used and will replaced as soon as its need is complete. It is also true that they are the most regimented people I've ever met. They have a schedule and they stick to it. It was hard for my fly by the seat of my pants, don't close a door, drop things on the first flat surface I see pile making personality to get used. But I've learned order is nice. It's easy to find the key when it is always put on the same hook. Go figure.

So I started wondering what my house says about me. In general my house is clean - not spotless, but clean. Except for the aforementioned piles, I'm really not that disorganized. Well, my closet might make Dr. Jenn scratch her head, and the Tupperware drawer is not part of this discussion. Now Sweetie, who I'd call very linear, is a different story. He likes to line things up. He organizes his closet by color and style. Dress shoes wrapped in flannel sacks are kept in a separate closet than casual shoes.   Even though he has as much "stuff" as I have, I admit his looks neater in a straight line than in a jumble.

I guess those differences could also be attributed to our personalities. Sweetie is logical, analytic, straight thinking. I'm more like a whirling dervish. Not so much on the outside as on the inside. Talk to anyone who knows me and they'd say I'm calm and cool. Unless, of course, I'm having a meltdown.
I wonder if I got back into weekly therapy if I could turn things around.  The thing is, I kind of like the way I am.

What does your house say about you?
Merry ME

PS. I googled it and this is what I found about the A&E show:

During each episode of Family Forensics a family vacates their home for the weekend. Dr. Jenn goes into their home with a Detective Scott DeFoe, Forensic Expert Heather DeBevec, and Computer Specialist Nick Glassman knowing absolutely nothing about the family. The team has 48 hours to go through the family’s belongings and profile each member. In order to gain insight about the family, the forensics team goes through all of the family’s belongings including closets, drawers, boxes, diaries, garbage and home computers. Family Forensics takes a “no holds barred” approach to exploring the dynamics within today’s nuclear family.

On the third day host, Rob Nelson, brings Dr. Jenn to the family’s home to meet. During that session Dr. Jenn shares the profile that has been developed about the family based on the discoveries in the home. She then discusses the family dynamics and performs family therapy.

Day 21

This did not get posted last night. In my defense, I was at work until after midnight so I couldn't finish it. I doubt the NaBloPoMo police are going to check up on me. Just wanted my cheerleaders to know I did my best. ME

____

I like to read. I'm not a fast reader. If you ask me a few days after I finish a book who was the main character or what was the plot, I probably couldn't tell you.

I don't have much of scale for why I like a book or not. It's usually an emotional reaction. I don't look for literary flair, or big words. I like a story that grabs me at the start and takes me on a journey. I particularly like memoirs by and about women. Like Joan Anderson who spent a year by the sea, or Cheryl Strayed who walked the Pacific Coast Trail, or Elizabeth Gilbert who traveled around the world and got paid for the story of how she found herself.

That's why I picked up Gilbert's most recent novel, The Signature of All Things. Gilbert went back to her fiction roots. I'm sure there are lots of people who will say they enjoyed this book. But I gotta tell you it was a long hard read for me. Sweetie kept asking me why I didn't just put it down and read something else. Good question. Somewhere in my life I made a rule that if I start a book, I have to finish a book. I've broken that rule a few times, but not very often.

So I plodded my way through 514 pages night after night, waiting for the book to get better. In my opinion it never did. If I hadn't been reading it on my Nook, I may have thrown the story across the room when I finished the last sentence.  Huh? I thought to myself. Really? That's it?

The Signature of all Things is about a woman in the 1800's who studies plants … moss(es) to be exact. She has troubled relationships - especially with men. (There's something I could relate to). She also diddles herself alot. I only mention that because Gilbert makes a big deal out of it, for no reason that I can see advances the story.

Here's what Steve Almond of the NY Times Magazine* had to say: "The book’s heroine is Alma Whittaker, the brilliant, restless daughter of an imperious botanical explorer. Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns — the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry — are essentially modern."

I suppose if I read with eye for deeper meaning, all that would have made sense to me. I didn't get the "feminine struggle for fulfillment" part. In fact, I would have said Alma was fulfilled by her studies in a time when women took care of the house instead of wondering in the woods watching moss grow - or not grow as the case may be.  Perhaps I just don't appreciate the elegant sheen of a 19th century epic. What do I know?

I'm not saying don't read the book. I'm just saying it wasn't my cup of tea. I wish I'd realized that before the tea got cold. The subject and the style may not have appealed to me, but it is evident Gilbert did tons of research. Plus she does have a way with words. For example:

"Beatrix had always sat - and was startled by the nothingness. It was like looking at a spot on the wall where a clock had hung for years, and seeing only an empty space. She could not train herself not to look; the emptiness surprised her every time." pg. 159

…"And yet Boehme said the God had pressed Himself into the world, and had left marks there for us discover." pg. 248

"She herself did not forget her woes, but she sewed up the rents in the fabric of her life quite as well as she could, and carried on." pg. 310

There is a level of grief so deep that it stops resembling grief at all. The pain becomes so severe that the body can no longer feel it. The grief cauterizes itself, scars over, prevents inflated feelings. Such numbness is a kind of mercy." pg. 316

The air across the beach snapped and shimmied like a bed sheet shaken out …" pg. 410

Perhaps that is why I continue to read books that seem to drone on. Like panning for gold, I can usually find some shiny nugget of wisdom that makes it all worth while, or turn of phrase that makes the writer in me say, "wow!"  I have few books that do not have dog eared pages or not marked by yellow highlighter.

What are your reading habits?
Merry ME

*Eat, Pray, Love, Get Rich, Write a Novel No One Expects, Sept. 18, 2013

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 20 Procrastination

Sometimes my daughter calls me just to ask for encouragement and inspiration. It is usually on a cleaning day. What's funny about that is I'm not the best of cleaners. You'd think she'd call Aunt Linda instead. The other funny thing about these calls is we usually talk for a very long time about things that have nothing at all to do with mopping the kitchen floor or scrubbing toilets. Yet when the conversation has run its course, one of us is usually in the mood to at least do a load of laundry. Sometimes Weneki, sometimes ME.

Today is the first day in a long time I don't have somewhere to go until later, so I am still in my jammies. Good golly, Miss Molly, I love pajama days! I won't go so far as to say I'm in the cleaning mode, but I have swept the kitchen floor and changed the bed. There is a load of clothes in the washer and (drum roll, please) you can almost see the top the dining room table. Almost, because I still have one stack of papers that I'm not sure where to file. If I move the flyer for a new dentist, I won't remember to call for an appointment.

Halfway through the stack of cards, return address labels, stickers, envelopes and, of course, quotes I want to save that came out of my address book, I realized what was going on. I'm procrastinating. It's weird, isn't it you that in order to avoid doing something I don't want to do, I do something else I've been putting off?

I have an order for two bears. Both are already made. Easy peasy. The catch lies in dressing the bigger of the two. The recipient sent me a red knitted sweater vest that her mother has had since 1968. The label in it says it was made in Hong Kong.  I've got to figure out how to trim the vest down to fit a 25" bear. I've pinned it to see how much to cut. That's where I'm stuck. Making that first cut.

What if I make a mistake? What if Cut too much? What if it unravels?

When I first started making bears, I was using t-shirts. There was usually enough shirt to fix any cutting errors. But this vest is different. The problem is I'm not sure why. I've had clothes wake me up and say, come on, let's get this bear made. But I've never had one that seemed to say, whoa Nellie, are your sure you want to do this?  I realize that's giving way too much power to a shirt or a vest. Believe it or not, I am convinced the spirit of the person lives on in the clothes they loved.

Here's the thing. I know the vest is going to look wonderful on the bear. Like a polar bear in a red sweater. I think it's time I gave myself a bit of a pep talk. I'll just pretend I'm Weneki and tell her how happy she's going to be to lie down on her sofa with a magazine, a quilt and Olivia (or Kurt as the case may be)without the first bit of (un)cleaner's remorse.

See. It's already working. Here I go. I'm off. Wish me luck.
Merry ME

Later that same day:


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 19

This morning I took my friend Mary to the doctor. Mary is 93 years old. She was in the hospital a couple weeks ago with a severe headache and pain behind her eye. Her ophthalmologist sent her to the emergency room around 10 am. She was admitted for an overnight stay around 7pm. After an MRI, a CT scan, and lots of lab work, it was determined that, in her words, she had a "headache."

Today's appointment was a follow-up. The bruise on her arm from all the IV sticks had vanished, but her eye and left arm were still black and blue from where she fell out of the car before her son could get around the car to help her out.  So the doctor is listening to Mary's litany of hospital complaints and reading the test results which is not an easy thing to do. It turns out, Mary's sinuses were/are blocked.

Now you'd think that someone in the hospital would have mentioned this to the patient and/or her son. You'd think the eye doctors she saw after the hospital stay might have called it to her attention, before sending her to a cornea specialist. Apparently no one thought it was important. At least that's what I'm guessing. Because surely they wouldn't have neglected to tell her. Surely the docs reading the scans can tell the difference between nothing and a fricking blocked sinus cavity.

What really scares me is Mary's blood pressure is really high. She lives alone with only her cat Gracie for company. Her son checks on her every day, and I'm usually there once or twice a week. She wears an I've-fallen-and-can't-get-up button pinned to her shirt, but a fat lot of good that's going to do her if she blacks out and hits her head. I try not to worry. I tell myself it's not my problem. But it makes me crazy.


Later on this afternoon, I went with Bella and her mom to the doctor. Poor little thing was getting sicker by the minute. Like most children and dogs who have been to the doctor enough times to understand that this is not going to be a picnic, Bella started crying as soon as she heard her name called. I'm not talk crying so much as deep body wracking sobs. How the doc heard her lung sounds or saw inside her ears is beyond me. Pediatricians and geriatricians must go to the same school. Their patients can be very distracting.  Turns out Miss Bella has sinusitis, too. What do you think the odds of that happening are?

I am the only one who did not get sick on or after our trip to Georgia. I've never heard so much sneezing and coughing. Now I've been puked on, coughed on and sneezed on. I'm a walking talking science experiment. I'm sucking down Airborne and trusting it to keep my immune system bolstered against the creeping crud.

So far so good.
Merry Me

P.S. I realize I'm kinding of scraping the bottom of the barrel with these posts. My goal is to write something. It's easier to write what's happening than make something up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 18

Please forgive me if posting someone else's story is considered a NaBloPoMo no-no. But here's the thing.I've been nursing a small but nagging headache since about 5 o'clock. Just about the time the Tylenol was kicking in, poor little Bella erupted. Let's just say I was baptized and leave it at that. It's going on bedtime and I just can't think of anything to write about.

That said, when I read this story, my whole body said "yes." In this crazy, mixed up world, I love knowing that the date cookies and apple juice serve as holy communion between strangers. Plus, I don't think I'll ever travel without a plant again.

Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye. I will for sure be buying a book of her poetry.
I'm off to bed,
Merry ME


Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:
As posted at: http://davidkanigan.com/2014/11/16/gate-a-4
Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”
I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”
We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies— little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts— from her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single traveler declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo— we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.
Then the airline broke out free apple juice and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend— by now we were holding hands— had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate— once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 17

Having Johnson around is like having my own on-call weatherman.
"A storm's coming," he said this morning. "It should be here in about 3 hours. Lots of rain and then it'll turn cold."
I've learned to take what he says to the bank.
After the allotted time, as if on cue, the winds started howling, the sky lit up with lightening and hail began pinging off the roof. Maizey, who had been sound asleep at the end of the bed, woke up and started pacing. Neither dog likes boom booms.

Since the back door was open, Sweetie and I watched as his beloved elephant ears were tousled by gale force winds. The sky was dark grey. When the electric transformer blew on the street behind us, sparks popped and sizzled. I went around lighting candles. Sweetie pulled a chair up to the picture window and watched for any sign that the neighbors' trees might topple.

Then as suddenly as it started, the storm was over. There were branches and twigs the size of Christmas trees in the yard but we didn't give it much more thought. Until it was time to go to work. Around the corner, a pretty big tree blocked the street. Sweetie turned around and tried another way out of the neighborhood. He didn't get very far because two more trees lay across the main road. On the third street, another tree had landed half on and half off someone's house.

Some of the trees in our neighborhood have been here for over 100 years. The water oaks rot from the inside out so it doesn't take a big wind to knock them down. Today's storm appeared to break them like  match sticks, not the stately sentinels they have been for so long. As much as I hated to seem them go, I'm grateful we cut down our trees a few years ago.

After the storm passed by everything was eerily quiet. I didn't hear as much as felt the trees crying. It would be a few hours before the sound of chain saws filled the air. It's been 7 hours and JEA trucks are still at work cutting up trees, fixing wires and making the streets passable.


Turns out, it was no ordinary storm. Wind gusts were up to 67 MPH, and a few funnel clouds came close. 

I'm pretty sure that tornado safety procedures do not include standing in front of an open door, or plate glass window. I've got to say a little big prayer of gratitude that we weren't whisked up and taken to the Emerald City. 

Just another reminder not to mess with Mother Nature,
Merry ME

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 16 - Risk Taking

Seems like the Universe is trying to get a message to me. I've been bombarded lately with the idea of taking a risk. I readily admit that Merry ME is just another name fo' Chicken Little.  In the mountains, I realized that one of the reasons I don't try new things is because I'm afraid of being made fun of or embarrassed.

I was in the children's department of Barnes and Noble today. One of my favorite places. There was a table there, with a whole Thomas the Tank train set up for kids to play with while their parents shopped. I couldn't help but overhear one little boy who really wanted to play, ask his mother time and again, to come play with him.

No, she told him, you play by yourself. I think the kid would have been very happy to play by himself. But there were two other kids playing. It didn't look to me like they were being aggressive or mean. The table was big enough for several pint sized engineers. It was  obvious to me the little boy was too afraid to walk up to the table and join in.

I got a little perturbed at the mom. No matter how many times she was asked, she told her son, to go play. I kind of wanted to take him by the hand, and say something along the lines of it's okay, you don't have to be scared, let's play at this end where there aren't any other kids.  Of course, then the mother would have had me arrested.

What's curious to me is how I saw the situation and how, even though my inner child understood exactly how that little boy was feeling, I wanted to encourage him to take the risk. What if in risky situations, I did what I wanted to do for that kid? What if I take my own hand and say, "it's going to be okay."

Interesting concept.
What's the riskiest thing you've every done?
Merry ME

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 15 - Halfway Home

So Sweetie and I are driving down the expressway, almost home with a car full of groceries. My eyes glimpse. the moving images of an electric billboard. It took a second, for my brain to catch up, then catch on. Could it possibly be a that big a type-o?

I asked Sweetie to turn around so I could get a picture. One thing I've got to say about this man o' mine is when I ask him to turn around, he usually says okay.  When we got back to the sign, I cracked up. Cause there it was in all it's misspelled glory. I suppose it could be said that the message speaks for itself, and spelling is sometimes overrated. Still, it makes me laugh.




May you honer this day with laughter and celebration,
Merry ME

Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 14

I have spent the last hour since getting home from work scrolling through Zulilly ads.
I came back to the bedroom to post something here.
Alas I still have nothing to say that feels worthy.
When all else fails, I fall back on gratitude.


So today I'm grateful for feeling more like myself, not so scared and depressed.
I'm grateful for clarity and insight.
Despite my aches and pains, I'm grateful for good health.
I'm grateful for people to love who love me back.
I'm grateful for worry-ers. Sorry to make them worry, but grateful they care.
I'm grateful for the sight of Bella doing the Hokey Pokey.
I'm grateful for a chill in the air and blankets on the bed.
I'm grateful Sweetie didn't pay the $180.00 to have the car checked out when all it took was driving it off the lot.
I'm grateful for Ray at Avis.
I'm grateful for Bear claws and Broccoli Cheddar soup from Panera's.
I'm grateful for Chat Noir writing buds and the inspiration they share.
I'm grateful it's time to crawl under the covers, close my eyes, and fall asleep next to the man I love.

What are you grateful for?
Merry ME

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 13 -Thich Nhat Hanh



I needed these quotes today.









May our collectice wisdom and prayers reach the heart of this beloved teacher.
May you know peace.
Merry ME

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DAY 12

After 5 days in the mountains, one of the first things I said when I walked in the back door was something like, "I'm ready to move to the mountains." I didn't notice the delight in Sweetie's eyes, until a day or so later.

"A realtor is coming by at 5 to give us an idea of what the house is worth."

I've been waffling on selling and moving ever since Dad died. Some days I'm ready to stick a hand painted sign in the front yard and sell to the first person that offers me something. Then there are those days when I seriously cannot think of not living here without hyperventilating. The days in between fluctuate between move and not move.

The pros on the move side are pretty straightforward. Downsize. Leave the ghosts for someone else to deal with. Settle down in a place I'll be til the end.

The cons, involve packing/unpacking, deciding where to go, find a new place, getting there, settling in, starting over. I can already feel my breathing starting to speed up.

Decision making has never been my forte. So I followed Sweetie and the Realtors around, listening to what was being said about the house I've called home since 1962. Even when I was married and lived in 10 different places, this is where I called home.  It's a big house. It's a nice house. It's "Old Florida." It's well maintained. It's got a pool in the back yard, a new air conditioner and a mother-in-law suite.
It's got my family tree painted on the dining room wall. The end of the den bookcase has the marks to show how much the children and grandchildren grew from year to year.

As the scent of pine trees fades so does my determination to move to the mountains.  I hate to say it, though, I think it's time to let go of what was, to make room for what's to come.

Anyone want a house in Florida? It's got good bones.
Just asking,
Merry ME

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 11 - Veteran's Day

"At  3 p.m., all across the country, 
people will be silent 
and will acknowledge you and honor you 
or simply fall silent and let themselves feel
 that your death is our loss. 
Today, at 3 p.m. Pacific time, I will be thinking of you 
and I will be thinking of those you 
faced and fought who have also suffered and died. "
Letter to an Unknown Soldier* 

 I'm from a military family. I was married to a Naval pilot for 20 years. In all that time I never had to attend the funeral of someone who died on foreign shores.  My father was buried with full military honors and rests eternal in the Jacksonville National Cemetery. I go to visit his grave a couple times a year. It always surprises me to see the number of headstones that have been placed since dad's funeral.



"Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?"**


On this Veteran's Day as we celebrate the lives and give thanks for the sacrifice of the men and women in our armed forces,  I'd like to share a story with you about a young man who was killed in Afghanistan 7 years ago. 


Dustin "Dusty" J. Perrott was born on May 5,1984. Twenty-three years and 29 days later his life was cut short by an IED in Miri, Afghanistan. Dusty's official obituary reads:

"Sergeant Perrott served in the U.S. Army, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Parachutish Badge."

As early as third grade, Perrott was the class clown. In high school and beyond, he channeled that energy into playing drums with his band.

“Dusty had an ear for music like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said his wife, Anna. He couldn’t read sheet music, but he could hear something once, like an Elton John tune, and play it right back without error.

A 2003 high school graduate, he volunteered to go to Iraq, serving there from December 2004 to March 2005. He sought to follow in the footsteps of his father, a sergeant, who died when Perrott was 4.


Dusty's sister, Angie, described him as "one of those guys that just had a presence about him . He could walk in a room, not say a word and you knew there was something about him. He was a kind sweet gentleman but if he saw someone being mistreated, he would handle it in a heartbeat!" Dusty loved the Miami Dolphins and Dan Marino.
____

I never met Dusty, but I feel like I know him. Angie Barr contacted me about making some bears out of Dusty's clothes. I've made bears from t-shirts, scarves, a robe, an old quilt and even the clothes a woman wore when she coded on a gurney in the emergency room. Dusty's were the first to come from a person who died in combat. I have learned that it is not uncommon for the clothes to be somehow imbued with the spirit of the person who wore the clothes. 

When I opened the box of Dusty's clothes, some camouflage BDU(Battle Dress Uniform) pants, a desert cammy laundry bag, and some Miami dolphin football jerseys, I did what has become a ritual for me. I held them close to my chest. I said a prayer. 
A couple days later I began to cut the pants into pieces. I needed as much material as I could get because I wanted to make 4 bears. It was tricky. There were pockets located all over the pants. As I got down to the bottom on one leg, I put my hand inside the pocket. I didn't expect to find anything inside. I shivered as  I pulled out a handfull of cigarette butts. I held in my hand, perhaps the last thing Dusty ever touched. When I closed my eyes, it was if I could feel the young man's deep breath, the smoke filling his lungs, then slowly encircling his head as he exhaled. Did Dusty smoke those cigarettes in the quiet moments between battles? Was he sharing stories with his buddies or writing his final letter home to those he loved? I didn't know the answers to those questions. But I did know I wouldn't be the one to throw them away. 

If those butts  were a link between life and death, it was important to include them in a bear. So I did. I tucked them back inside a pocket with a note for Dusty's sister. She said it reminded her of when they were kids and sneaked cigarettes. 


Have you ever watched Long Island Medium? You know how she comes out with some weird something and the person she's talking to knows immediately what she's talking about and it's always a personal connection to the spirit Theresa is in contact with. I know it sounds kind of woo woo but I believe these butts were the same thing. Dusty didn't know he was going to die. When his belongings were packed up nobody knew the BDU's would be made into bears. Yet, when Angie held that bear, there was an immediate connection to her brother who had been gone for 7 years. 



At 3 pm this afternoon I ask that you join others in a moment of silence. Say a prayer for those who have died and send a fervent message to the Divine Peacemaker that no more mothers and fathers will have to bury their sons or daughters, that no more wives and husbands will go to bed alone with broken hearts. And no more children will have to ask "why?" 

May the day come when we build more playgrounds than graveyards.

Merry ME

For pictures of Dusty's Bears please see my Bears by Me facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/memorybearsbyME


For another really good Veteran's day post please see Elizabeth Marro's blog at http://elizabethmarroblog.com





* http://elizabethmarroblog.com/2013/05/

**Where Have all the Flowers Gone, by Pete Seeger

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 10

My neighbor is dying.
His fight has been a valiant one.
He's been in hospice for a few days.

His wife has not left his side.
Every time he's been in the hospital she's spent the night on one of those god awful hospital couches.
George was in a rehab place for close to 6 months.
Doris stayed with him the whole time except for running home to take a quick shower.

Sweetie and I have been taking care of Whiskers - George's cat.
A great big fluff ball.
He knows when the door opens to come out, meow, plop down on his back and present his tummy for a rub.
I learned early on, that if I rubbed the wrong spot, teeth and claws would come out.
A cat's way of saying, please don't touch me there.

Before George got sick this last time, he made a few trips home to visit Whiskers.
He'd sit in the car and Doris would put Whiskers on his lap.
They had a lot of catching up to do.

I'd like to take Whiskers over to George.
I'm not sure George is even awake enough to know.
And Whiskers hates being take anywhere.
So I will sit with the cat tomorrow, sit on the floor, and risk brushing him.
And I'll visit George to say goodbye.

May these final hours and days be an easy transition for them.
Merry ME

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 9








I will keep my heart open and my eyes on the light.
Not-so-Merry ME

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 8

12 hours in packed into the car like a sardine.
I less person and suitcase.
More wine, bread and cheese from the DeKalb Farmers Market.

It's good to be home with my Sweetie.

That's all folks,
Merry ME

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 7

Lather
Rinse
Repeat

I stepped int he shower this morning.
Shampooed like I do every day.
I reached for the lavender castille soap.
Squirted some into my hand.
And yup …. rubbed it right into my already clean hair.

I suppose castille soap is as good for your hair as it is your body.
But really?
Is this the way the day is going to go?

Perhaps I should crawl back into bed.


I worked on my vision board until I heard the train was leaving for town.
I didn't really NEED to go, but wanted to check out a few places the other women found delightful.
First stop Mercier Apple Orchard.  Think apples, apple fritters, apple pies, apple butter, apple cider, apple stationery, apple decorations and just about anything else apple you can think of.
Then Joe's BBQ.
Then Owl's Loft.
Then the farmer's market for pickles.
Then the Olive Oil store.
Then back to the orchard.

I was ready to for a nap.
When I got home Sweet Diane had glued my vision board.
How cool is that?
It is not so much visioning as a list of words that will hopefully kickstart a regular writing routine.

Later ….
I saw the coolest thing this evening. The sun was beginning to set, but a few rays lit up the leaves making them appear holy. All of a sudden there were crows everywhere. They filled the tree right outside the porch. They were squawking up a storm. It wasn't the normal sound you'd associate with a crow, so maybe they weren't crows at all.  It was for sure a black bird convention. Suddenly, as if someone in charge had blown a whistle, all the birds lifted from their branches and flew en masse to some trees on the other side of road. For about 2 seconds, not long enough to even focus a camera, the sky was covered in a black cloud. Think the bees trailing after Winnie the Pooh, only theses were birds not bees.  After some more hovering and tree jumping and chattering up a storm, the silent signal was given. The birds rose again and headed to another tree out of sight. I couldn't help but wonder what they were saying to one another. Wish I could have gotten a picture.

Still later ….

What do writers do after a few glasses of wine, on the last night of their retreat and the moon is full? They have a bonfire, roast the biggest marshmallows you've every seen, tell stories, dance around the fire playing percussion instruments and howl at the moon. I think each of us had a howl in us that needed to be released. It's pretty freeing, actually. As I write, there is hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps being made.

All that's left to do is empty the fridge, wash the dishes, pack the car and head south. Like all retreats, this one must end. A retreat wouldn't really be a retreat if it lasted all the time, would it?

It's good to get away for a spell.  It can be restful and tiring at the same time.  It's particularly good for me, because I think my world has narrowed so much. When did I stop socializing? When did it become easier to stay home instead of go out? When did I stop doing things that gave me something to talk about? When did I stop dancing? Maybe the better question is why?

Merry ME

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 6


Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I'm still in my jammies, under the quilt, propped up by pillow. If I crane my neck I can see out the window that the rains rolled in sometime in the night. The sky touches the mountain tops. We're almost to that stage in autumn when there are more leaves on the ground than the trees. Some, still hang on tenaciously, not yet willing to let go.
Ah, now there's a metaphor for you.

I guess it's no surprise to anyone that I have a hard time letting go. Am I afraid that if I let go, I won't remember? My mother's face? My father's ambiguous, stingy love?

Even the crap things in my life that I'd gladly hand off to the Great Dumpster in the sky, come back, unbeckoned over and over again. They, too, define me in a way. If I bid them goodbye, what happens to that part of me?

If an anthropologist was studying the bones of my existence (s)he'd find distinct periods of time. The Married Age, The Going Home Age, and The Moving On Age. Perhaps this segment of time moves slow because I'm in it. I'm not rushing to the end to see what comes next. But I do wonder what Moving On will look like 5 or 10 years from now. What will I have released and not feel bound by any longer? What will I still hold tight and gnaw on like Maizey and her giant bone? What might I have forgotten instead wrapped up and stashed away, like mom's tea set that never gets used but is still sits waiting in the closet.

An hour or so later ….

The sun has appeared, the mist burned away. I see some white clouds moving to the forefront, waving goodbye to the grey ones. Leaves are dancing on slight wind like ballerinas spinning across the stage.

Later still…

We went into the tourist part of Blue Ridge today. Getting there and back is a little like mountain climbing without the backpack, crampons, belay device and carabiners. Well, dang, it is mountain climbing, isn't it? Around and around we went, narrow road, tight switchbacks. I was glad to be in the back seat and not driving.

I'm sure the locals don't spend a lot of time or money on this street. We had a wonderful lunch that was nothing like you'd expect to find in a southern town. No mom. No pop. No cornbread, country ham or black-eyed peas. The surprising thing is that four of the women in this group are healthy eaters. I'm talking vegans who only eat organic. They ordered hot dogs. HOT DOGS? Big ol' dogs dressed up in crispy bread, with some fancy condiment on the side. You can dress them up, but a hot dog is still a hot dog, right? Someone asked for ketchup. Not that there is anything wrong with hot dogs. I was just a little surprised and wondered how well a giant dog goes with Onion soup made with three different kinds of onions and apple juice.

After lunch we paired up to wonder in and out of shops looking at things too expensive for my pocketbook. I did find a really good deal on scarves. When I got ready to pay for them, I couldn't use my credit card. Alas I was money-less. Grrr.

Before heading down the mountain, I looked in the zippered part of my wallet where I thought I had stashed the majority of my spending money. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't there. It wasn't in my suitcase, my sweatshirt pockets, the car, the wallet I left at home. It was gone. Losing 80 dollars is upsetting regardless. But misplacing the money came on the heels of losing the rental car contract which has been driving me crazy all week. I figured both the money and the contract were lying in the road somewhere near the Avis car park. In other words, never to be seen again.

To back track a little, a few months ago Sweetie scared himself and me by thinking he had entered the first stages of dementia. Several doctors' visits later, and some medication changes and he is much happier and remembering things again. I, on the other hand, feel like I'm on the slippery slope to that "room" that Johnson has already picked out for me. I don't know if I've got sympathy dementia or the real thing. I feel sure putting money in a safe place then forgetting where that place is has to be on the list of symptoms.

It put me in a funky mood. I felt stupid and angry. So I set myself apart from the group. When there was free moment, I'd try counting backwards from 100 by sevens.

The happy ending to this story is the magic that happens when the brain that I thought had shriveled up to the size of a donut hole gets a momentary flash of brilliance and I see myself putting the folded bills not in the wallet I brought with me, but the checkbook I left at home. Someone please tell my son to cancel the room.


After a dinner of leftovers, the group and three boxes of tissues, gathered together again. The cold bug had claimed another victim. Each of us read something we've written while here. Seriously folks, I wish you could hear this stuff. Nine writers sharing what they do best is something to behold.

It's been a long day. I'm ready for bed.
Merry ME

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 5

The sky is grey this morning. The mountains covered in shadows. It looks cold. I'm on the couch again. With a push of a button the fire whooshed to life. I can smell gas instead of logs burning. There is no crackle or pop. It looks pretty, but I think I prefer the real thing.

Hmm, smelling gas is not a good thing, is it?
After some chatting with Carol and noticing half a dozen wasps in the tip top window I've moved into the living room where real fire sizzles. Ahhh, that's what I wanted.

Some of the ladies have headed out to town looking for gourds. A few of us are working on our Popcorn challenges for the day. My mind wanders from one thought to another. I  can't focus. Not sure what's up.

You know what? This is my play day. I'm giving myself permission to shut the computer, grab my book, throw a blanket over my head and play peekaboo.

Later …
Seriously folks, even F. Scott Fitzgerald could not recreate what has transpired today.  Suffice it to say when creative women, good food, tequila and story telling are mixed together you will laugh until your sides hurt.

What happens in Blue Ridge … stays in Blue Ridge but here are a few highlights:
  • Play exercise consisting of marshmallow and toothpick creations
  • Our fearless leader rescuing a kitten from the woods half an hour before the plumber informed us there was a bear in the driveway heading for the exact spot said leader and kitten had been
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
  • Drinking game 
  • Tales from a Mexican vacation told by the best storytellers ever.
Going to bed feeling warm and fuzzy and grateful,
Merry ME

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nablopomo - Day 4


Sitting alone on a circular couch, facing a flameless gas fireplace.
The sun is slowly sinking behind the mountains, turning the vivid yellows and oranges into dull memories of their noontime beauty.

The door between the kitchen and this room is ajar. I can hear the others laughing, talking, cooking. Cocktail hour started at 4:30. Bottles of wine, both red and white, sit on the counter, next to the corks piling like rock cairns. I hear the dinner bell ringing.

I thought this retreat would make writing and posting every day easy.
Not so.
The distractions are not the same as at home, but distracting none the less.

Later ….

Everyone took today's writing assignment seriously. After dinner we gathered in a circle and read the stories we'd written today.  It's hard to describe how it feels to be a part of this group. To throw my story into the pot and feel like it holds its own. Earlier this afternoon I felt unsure of myself, needing some space and not knowing why.  All that anxiety left as we read one another's stories. I laughed and cried at the multi-layered abilities of women who thread words together like a fine tapestry.

Tomorrow our assignment is to play. I think a rousing game of peek-a-boo, a la Bella, sounds like the ticket.  I found it interesting that when we were told we "had" to play, most of us, complained. Play? What's that?

When was the last time you had permission to play?
Merry ME



Monday, November 3, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 3

Long, long day.
5 ladies
1 wheelchair
9 hour drive
 Suitcases on top of the car
Laughing
Napping 
Wendy's chili
Atlanta traffic
Blue Ridge, GA
Mountain switchbacks
 Finally arrived at our destination
 Unpacked the car
Ate dinner
Sat down to write.
Sorry folks, I just don't have it in me to write much.
I'll let the picture do the talking.


Let the vacation begin.

Quote of the Day:
"When you're slinging poop, you've still got poop all over your hands."
Carol O'Dell