Slow Down

The PAD prompt for April 12th was to use at least three of these six words: convict, great, play, race, season, voice. I was able to use them all.

St. Augustine, FL
Slow Down

do not silence the voice
the one that gives convictions
the one that says slow down
the one that whispers you did it
 
the one that gives convictions
and now confidence
the one that whispers you did it
you finished the race
 
and now confidence
a season of rest
you finished the race
the great one
 
a season of rest
time for play
the great one
now behind you
 
time for play
do not silence the voice
now behind you
the one that says slow down

Writing is a dance

July 17, 2004

 “Writing is a dance with all those other books you’ve read and the ones you’re going to read. Writing is making a house within the house.” – Heather Sellers

I love the lyrical sound of the above quote. Writing, indeed, is a dance. Our words are the steps; the paper (or computer) our dance floor; our flowing thoughts the music. Some days we dance the slow pace of a personal essay waltz. Others days find us joyfully doing a boogie as we share exciting news. We might tap our way through a tutorial or gracefully perform a poetic ballet with our words. Our vocabulary might be a tango or a square dance; our delivery a salsa or a break dance.

The important thing is to write what’s on your heart. What you’ve read, your family, your friends, where you live – all these things will come into play when you sit down to write. Draw from your experiences and twist the night away!

I want to express sincere gratitude to all who read my feeble words. Writing is therapy for me. The majority of my writings the past seven months or so have been songs of lamentation. But, we find those songs in scripture, right next to songs of pure joy and songs of gratitude and worship. I embrace it all.



A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4

Our stories

Shades Mountain, Bham

“But when we are grieving, it is our personal stories… that become so important. If we tell the story of our loved one’s death twice a day, three times a day, or more, and we still have the urge to tell it, then that is what we must do. The stories of our love, our life, and our loved one’s life are the most important pieces of information we have. We need to indulge ourselves, to hear the telling, to listen to our own words, to say the same thing again and again and again until we don’t need to say it anymore.” – from A Time to Grieve by Carol Staudacher

I’ve thought lately that maybe I’m writing too much about loss, too much about Chuck. But, then today I read this and I think I’m on the right track. Writing is my way of grieving and healing. And though I only have a handful of faithful readers, maybe somehow, somewhere, my words will touch someone that needs to hear them.

Grandpa Mugs and spreadsheets

In my search for advice, empathy, survival tips on grieving, I’ve come across some helpful articles. One place where I found a relatable story was at modernloss.com

These words from Elaine Ross rang true with me:

We never had a sweeping declaration of love conversation.

For 18 months, I’ve been falling asleep hoping to dream the words we left unsaid; and I’ve been waking up hoping to come upon a letter he’d forgotten to give me.

I allowed him to take his last breath without saying those precious words?….

It wasn’t until I taped the last box of his clothes and carried it into the car did I realize what I had found in that closet. The business card on which I wrote my cellphone number down the night we first met, every Father’s Day card and birthday present and random art project the kids ever gifted to him, printed Excel spreadsheets with all our home vendors with phone numbers and contact names (which would have been helpful in those first days of widowhood), and pages upon pages of treatments, medical and natural. What I found was in fact what I was looking for: acknowledgment of how much he loved me and the family we created, of how often he quietly and bravely faced his own mortality, of how certain he was that I would know best how to find our way forward…

The deeper meaning, then, is not found in the things we said, because we didn’t, but in the way we approached our truth.

Some of the things I have found that let me know I would find my way forward were the books of his I have to read, the index cards of Bible verses, the baseball glove, the folder of letters, the grandpa mugs and “No, You Can’t Have a Sip” mug, the little black book of user names and passwords, the budget spreadsheets where he had slaved over the figures for months, figuring out that, yes, he could retire. Yes, we could make a go of it. We just didn’t know then that it would just be me making a go of it. But, he planned well and took care of me. God knew and He takes care of me.

Do I want Chuck back? Yes, with all my heart. Do I doubt God’s plan? No, but neither do I understand it.

Poetry Once More

Tillie K. Fowler Park, Jacksonville, FL
The Trouble with Poetry: A Poem of Explanation
Billy Collins

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky --

the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti --
to be perfectly honest for a moment --

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

I agree that poetry encourages the writing of more poetry. That’s why April has been such an inspirational month for me the past 9-10 years. I started out this past April with a bang, but life has a way changing as we all know. I wrote the following poem the day after we got the first news – the first inkling that things were about to change. I ended up keeping two volumes from the old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias. #1- Poems and Rhymes and #10 – Make and Do. The rest are gone, along with probably 1/2 of my household possessions. Sometimes you just have to keep the important stuff and let go of the rest. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Can't remember when I first felt inspired to write a poem myself
But I do remember some poems of my childhood
From Childcraft: The How and Why Library
Volume One
Poems and Rhymes
I laughed at the Purple Cow and the limericks
I met characters like little Tommy Tucker
And Polly who put the kettle on
And Mistress Mary who was quite contrary
I chanted Pease Porridge Hot and Jack Be Nimble
Was introduced to the joyous words of Robert Louis Stevenson 
And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Whose poem about the little girl with the little curl
Was one my father always quoted to me 
And I did the same for my curly headed daughter 
And now over fifty years later
I am packing those books up to carry with me once more
Because I just can’t bear to part with them


Texts from the past #2: far away

12 16 78

 

February 14, 2018

“I feel far away from you. Are you going to buy a dress? Need some help? I love you.”

This was two days after Mom died. We came to Jacksonville to make preparations. I was with my brothers and Chuck was with his. I did buy a dress – a little black dress. He came along and helped me decide. I often called on him to help me decide; usually it was which shoes to wear. I’d put on one of each, stand on one leg and then the other while he pondered and gave his verdict. He was a pretty good judge of shoes.

So many words from the posts I wrote after Mom died I could write again now…

So I live out my days without them (him). I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. (alone). https://angie5804.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/thoughts-inspired-by-my-grandmother-asked-me-to-tell-you-shes-sorry/

“After she  (he) died, things seemed to go out of focus for awhile, and I felt strange to myself.”-from Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry  https://angie5804.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/avetts-in-october-9-strange-to-myself/ 

“Now all my thoughts about them (him) start with knowing they are (he is) gone.” from Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry  https://angie5804.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/avetts-in-october-10-i-have-some-better-words-now/

Last year was hard. This year seems harder. https://angie5804.wordpress.com/2019/12/18/magic-or-meaning/

Death holds many life lessons. I am learning still from Mom, though she’s been gone almost two years. She kept the important stuff: photos, letters, family documents and genealogy papers. She let go of replaceable stuff. https://angie5804.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/life-lessons/

Today is our 41st anniversary. I can’t help but think of my parents who had 41 years of marriage. Less than two months later Dad was gone. I didn’t realize then just how young he was, just 63. https://angie5804.wordpress.com/tag/mom/ 

I feel far away from you… I love you.

Words

Word Art 5

 

“Words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – A. Huxley, Brave New World

I must admit I wasn’t too much pierced by Brave New World, but Huxley’s thoughts sometimes came through like x-rays. The quote above stuck with me, made me realize how much I want my words to pierce. I want my words to make a change, if even just a little bit. And by my words, I’m referring to the written word.  I want the things I write to make a difference. Somehow, somewhere.

I’ve grown to appreciate The Avett Brothers for their lyrics as well as their sound. Their newest song, Bang Bang, packs a punch with its message. As much as I highly regard Scott and Seth and the crew, I don’t always totally agree with their lyrics. And that’s okay.  I could say that about a LOT of songs I listen to.

“Conceal and carry your fear” doesn’t make sense to me. I’d rather not have to carry around my fear. But, carrying a gun would not alleviate that fear. So what do I do? I pray and do what I can do be aware and lean back on their song No Hard Feelings. I carry on.

“And I’m in here pretending like Sunday is still sacred”  also makes me sad. Sunday IS still sacred, no matter what the neighbors think and no matter how I fail to treat is as such. I’ve got some neighbors who think they are Rambo, too. On any given day or night I hear gunfire in rapid succession. I worry about stray bullets coming down the hill to hit my elderly neighbors who are out for a stroll.

Though I don’t agree with every single word, I totally agree with the message of Bang, Bang. Carry on, Scott, Seth, Bob and Joe.

Habitude

battle

 

I can not recall ever seeing this word before today.  Websters has this to say: habitual disposition or mode of behavior or procedure.

To me it’s like a portmanteau. Like a Spork. Like Forky. But, I digress.

My husband is a man with definite habitudes. I see it more every day. The tomato juice every morning. The laying out of clothes in the evening. Those unsavory (to me) two – just lasagna or chili – Atkins meals for lunch.

But it’s funny how I am wondering what my own habitudes are. I like to mix things up. Try new items on the menu. Rotate my perfume. But and yet, I have a few habitudes. Like the way I vacuum the house on a rotating basis. And carry my iced coffee in my favorite insulated cup to work. And take photos of little plastic toys when I hike.

But I think I’ve overlooked the first part of the definition – the habitual disposition. Oh boy, that’s a hard one to talk about. That’s where I know I need a “Habitude Adjustment”. But for now I’ll leave you with a gallery of my little plastic guys. Maybe one day you’ll find one on the trail somewhere.

Word Pictures #4

wordcloud words

This is the fourth installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages. Enjoy!

“Anyway, the subject skims the joy off a pan of conversation.” Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

“The patriarch was a taut raisin of a man…” referring to Charley Guthrie in Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein

“…exotic-looking people who seemed to be baked the same color as their houses.” – Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein

The sea

Took off her clothes

In the sun today

And naked

All night

With the wild wind lay

Written by Woody Guthrie while onboard the William B. Travis during travel for the merchant marine.

 

Word Pictures #3

sun

This is the third installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

 

“And he would stand at the window, watch the pink and orange of sunrise, imagine the mist tickling the mountain’s ear or chucking it under the chin or weaving a cap for it. ” from  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

“… the passing hours had a strangeness to them, loose and unstructured, as though the stitches were broken, the tent of time sagging one moment, billowing the next.”  from  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

“Darkness hung over Dublin: every shade of gray between black and white had found its own little cloud, the sky was covered with a plumage of innumerable grays…” from Irish Journal by Heinrich Boll

 

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
   Hath had elsewhere its setting
    And cometh from afar;
  Not in entire forgetfulness,
 And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
 From God, who is our home:

from Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth

“… the goodness of creamed peas and of poultry allowed a free and happy life and then rolled in flour and pan-fried…” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor 

“Look lak she been livin’ through uh hundred  years in January without one day of spring.”  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

“So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.”  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston