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Approaching Storms

August 11, 2014

Pressure;

highs and lows-

predictable becomes unstable.

Foreboding;

rumbling on the horizon-

just before atmospheric tension thickens.

DesertStorms

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

I haven’t written much poetry lately (inspiration comes and goes for me on the poetic front.)  On Sunday afternoon, I pondered what to write just as rumbling thunder teased me with the prospect of a monsoon storm.  I remembered this photo from the 4th of July, taken a few hours before rain happened and delayed the fireworks display.  I thought it went well with this poem.

As I wrote this, I had in mind the similarities between weather storms and the emotional storms we encounter in relationships.  Perhaps my crankiness this past week prompted me to go there!  Seriously, last week was stressful with one annoyance after another.  I let it get to me, until I finally was able to let it go (mostly).  My husband was smart and kept his distance.  My kids (older son especially) were not as wise and chose to challenge me.  Next week has to be better!

I missed writing a story last week because my mind just wasn’t there.  It was a creative flat line of sorts, which I haven’t experienced in a while.  I won’t overreact and call it writer’s block- I’ll just chalk it up to being preoccupied with the competing priorities that are life.  I’m hoping to come up with some fiction for later this week.  I really need my mind to rescue me from the “daily grind.”

Have a beautiful week!

Going Underground – Haiku (and more)

August 5, 2014

Arizona sun

relentless for months on end-

we went underground.

Lava Caves

Over the weekend, we went somewhere that forced me to face a few of my fears all at one time.  It wasn’t exactly by choice… I was kind of out-voted, and majority rules.  I don’t know why no one wanted to stay home and clean our tile floors.

We went on an excursion to the Lava River Cave (near Flagstaff, AZ.)   Fears aside, I looked forward to one thing:  40 degree temperatures inside the cave.  It’s been quite warm (okay, hot) in Arizona for a few months, so being cold without standing in front of the wide-open freezer sounded rather nice.

Good news:  I only bumped my head on low ceilings twice (you’d think I’d have learned after the first time, but no,)  and despite my older son’s effort to freak me out with claims of seeing bats, none nested in my hair (I checked.)

My older son led the way and as usual, I was the last of our group.   There is a danger of being left behind when you’re last, but I had insurance:  I packed the snacks in my knapsack.  Yep… that’s one way to make sure they keep me close.

I mentioned in the beginning that this one mile walk would have me encounter several fears.  You might guess that bats is one of those fears.  Now, I’m not afraid of bats per se… just bats deep inside a cave.  This brings me to another fear that I break into a sweat just thinking of:  enclosed spaces.  I only had one near panic attack in area that was about three feet high.  My family was there for me… well, my husband at least- he held my hand and talked me through it while my kids laughed at me.  (Charming little men, they are…)

I am also not a fan of the dark, or rather the things I can’t see because it’s dark.  I had this covered, though.  I carried two flashlights and a baggie with twelve AA batteries.  Hey, when facing fears, I didn’t intend to go down without a light, I mean fight :)

Oh dear, that was terrible. I really should see about writing my posts earlier in the evening!

Do you share any of these fears?  Have you explored caves?

5 Reasons Cats Rule (My House)

August 3, 2014

Last week, my blogging friend, Debbie wrote of some abhorrent cat behavior that led her to write a post entitled “5 Reasons I Hate Cats.” While I don’t think I can change anyone’s mind about felines, I thought it would be fun to share some reasons why I adore cats.

Their “purrs” relax me. 

Some people listen to CDs that play sounds of nature- waves crashing onto the shore, birds chirping, rainfall- you get the idea.  Me?  Nothing is more soothing that a cat snuggled up to me purring.  Some nights, Cybil chooses to sleep on my face head which isn’t the most comfortable.  After some push and pull on positioning, she often ends up curled against my neck and shoulder purring.  This is how I like to fall asleep.

They can grow on non-cat-people (like a fungus)

I first saw this with my mom.  I’ve always been drawn to cats and she was never a fan, but after I adopted every stray cat in the neighborhood, she relented and I got my first kitty.  How disappointed I was to find that cat liked her better than me.  Misty was an indoor/outdoor cat and disappeared.  I was heartbroken.  We got another kitty and that one loved me- she was my cat.  Abby also wormed her way into my mom’s heart.

My husband is a self-proclaimed dog person.  He makes this known regularly.  I smile when he grabs a cat when he goes to bed, but I don’t say anything.  One morning last week, I walked into the bedroom and found Lizzy wrapped around his foot.

No one told Lizzy he's a dog person!

No one told Lizzy he’s a dog person!

Of course, I had to snap this blackmail adorable photo as evidence that he may be just a little bit of a cat person :)

They like company, but they don’t need constant attention

Some say cats are aloof.  Maybe they are; but I think they just need less assurance of my love for them than a dog.  Our dogs need constant ear scratches and head rubs- if we’re sitting on the couch, we must be petting them.  The cats curl up next to me and snooze- they are content just being near me.  I “get” them… I like to have my space, too.

While my son is at school, Sammy is my "desk cat"

While my son is at school, Sammy is my “desk cat”

Oh, and they keep me company while I work, curled up on the other side of my desk.  So cute!

Even when they don’t feel good, cats can strike a pose

Kitties hide their illnesses well, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Often, by the time we pick up on something being off, they are really sick.  When Bulwinquel (our Yorkie-Poo dog) was around two years old, we took her to the vet because she wouldn’t walk on one of her legs- she kept lifting it up like it was hurt.  After the second visit for the problem, the vet did an x-ray and confirmed there was no injury.  He told us that if we babied her, she may never walk on it again!

Cybil is sick, but always ready to be admired.

Cybil is sick, but always ready to be admired.

And finally:  they know how to relax!

I don’t think I really need to explain this one – I have so many snoozing cat pics because they sleep… a lot!

Relaxing 101... take notes, and practice!

Relaxing 101… take notes, and practice!

I can sure take come cues from them :)

Here it is – your chance to share your thoughts (nicely.)  Let me know why you like or dislike cats!

Rite of Passage (Fiction)

July 31, 2014
Photo by JF @ Pursuit of Happiness

Photo by JF @ Pursuit of Happiness

The two boys crouched behind overgrown shrubs.

“This is stupid,” Turner whispered to his best friend.  “I can’t feel my legs anymore.”

“If it’s so stupid, why are you here?” Seth kept his gaze on the old house.

Turner didn’t say anything.  Instead, he shifted his weight to his other knee and stifled a groan when an ankle popped.  He thought about why he was there.  Mostly, he wanted to keep Seth from trumpeting down the school hallways that he was chicken.  “Maybe we should head back home.  It’s getting late.”  He glanced up at the moon, wishing the sun hadn’t surrendered to the shadows.

Seth snorted.  “You’re still afraid of the dark!”

“Am not!”

“Just like camp last year when you couldn’t sleep without a nightlight.”

“Shut up.  I was twelve.”

“If it’s not the dark, then you must be afraid of ghosts, or vampires.  Or whatever it is.”

Turner hesitated.  “That stuff’s not for real.”  He didn’t know if he believed in the existence of spirits or vampires, but he didn’t really want to find out.  “How do you know the house is abandoned?”

“Duh.  Have you ever seen anyone around?”

“Well, no, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

“Hey, is the video going?”

Turner glanced at his phone.  “Yeah, but I don’t see why.”

Seth rolled his eyes.  “I’m telling you, something funny is going on.”  He pointed to the railing, a patchwork of peeling sea foam colored paint and rust.  “She glides down the hill toward the lake almost every night.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Turner scrunched up his face in confusion.

“Supernatural phenomena rarely make sense.”

Turner burst into laughter.  “You’re a doof!”

“Shhhh!”  Seth frowned.  “You’ll scare her away.”

“I think she’d scare us more than–” Turner stopped talking when he felt something grip his shoulder.  He turned to Seth and saw the same wide-eyed look he imagined he wore.

Read more…

Bits of “Wisdom” I’ve Gained In Last 7 Days

July 29, 2014

Doing laundry *can* help settle the mind – but I still don’t recommend it

I wanted to write a post on Sunday to publish on Monday, but my thoughts bounced around like caffeinated squirrels.  (Judging by the activity level of ‘normal’ squirrels, I can only imagine ones on caffeine would be hard to follow.)

Writing didn’t happen because of many things:  anxiety over Monday’s dental appointment, not feeling good (after two weeks of tonsillitis), remembering things I have to do since school has started, and deadlines at work that put me on the computer for a couple hours Sunday night.  As I folded laundry, though, the idea came to me to write a post as scattered as what I feel – with the common thread of “wisdom” I encountered this past week.

Thank goodness I didn’t have to iron clothes to find peace!  (I don’t iron.  Ever.)

There has to be better therapy... like chocolate!

There has to be better therapy… like chocolate!

Sometimes it’s best not to try to understand

Conversation on the first day of school:

Me:  “Why don’t you just wear your sweat shorts and t-shirt to school since you have P.E. first hour?”

Older son:  “I’m not going to school looking like a slob.” (said with his ‘are-you-an-idiot?’ tone)

Me:  “You’d only have to change once, and you’d just have to wear gym clothes on the bus ride.”

Older son:  “And recess, too.”

I didn’t say anything else, but did laugh when he came out of his room wearing a different t-shirt and sweat shorts, which he planned to wear all day.  I do not claim to know what made these clothes not “slobby”.

Risk is Relative

Or is that, ‘relatives are risky’?  Oh, never mind.  Conversation with my dad after he spent many hours cursing at working on my computer:

Dad:  “I think your network card is bad.  A new one is $179, or they have a refurbished one for $22.”

Me:  “I’m not spending $179 on a 4-year-old computer.  But refurbished?  I don’t know… seems risky.”

Dad:  “You take a risk buying a new one, but the refurbished is only a $22 risk.”

Perhaps these principles of risk apply to other areas of life; something this risk-avoidant person needs to keep in mind.

My kids can be empathetic (if you’re covered in fur)

My older son put his cat on my lap while I worked at my desk.  Sammy didn’t want to be there so she headed toward the desk top.  She slipped and dug her claws into my thigh as she slid toward the floor.  I shrieked in pain and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck to pull her back onto my lap.

My son ran back into the room.  “What happened?”

“She slid down my thigh,” I said between clenched teeth.

“Oh, Sammy!  Are you okay?” He asked as he bent down to kiss the kitty.

Don’t worry about me.  The blood dries quickly and maybe scars aren’t forever.

Maybe they'd care if I "meowed"?

Maybe I’d get empathy (or sympathy) if I “meowed”?

What about you – what unexpected things have your discovered recently?

Oh, if you came here looking for some fiction, I’ve got a couple of ideas for a story to post later in the week.  I know, ideas aren’t the same as written stories, but I’ll work on that the next couple days :)

Making History (Fiction) – Emilio Pasquale Photo

July 24, 2014

The challenge:  write a story inspired by the photo below, provided by Emilio Pasquale.   If you didn’t read our first team-up, click here to read it!  And, if you haven’t checked out his photography site yet, you really should :)

An Emilio Pasquale Photo

An Emilio Pasquale Photo – click it to check out his wonderful photography site!

Marianne Sutter stoked the fire with a long broken branch she’d foraged in the woods surrounding camp.  The logs, moistened by last night’s rain, had been slow to burn, but finally rewarded her with meager warmth stifled by billowing smoke.  One of the few women in camp, she kept to herself.

“Well, well, Ms. Sutter.  How ‘about you warm yerself by my fire?”  The man gave an exaggerated wink.

“No thank you, Mr. Muehlling.” Her revulsion at his advances culminated in a deep shiver that she hoped had been concealed by her wool overcoat.

“If you change yer mind…”  He nodded toward his tent.

Marianne’s husband, Cortland, had led her to this God-forsaken land four months ago.  Enticed by adventure and gold, he moved them west.  When he first shared his plan to leave Virginia, she insisted he take her with him.  She’d thought being alone at home would be much worse than being with him on the frontier.  How wrong she was.  California turned out to be a fickle host.  Although Cortland had found a small amount of gold, months later, he succumbed to fever, leaving Marianne to fend for herself.

***

Marianne’s eyelids grew heavy as her fire dwindled to pulsing orange coals.  In the periphery, she caught sight of a movement to her left. She leaned forward and squinted, branch clenched tightly in her hands.

“Who’s there?”  She asked in a hoarse whisper so she wouldn’t disturb the panners who’d already retired for the night.  The bushes rustled and Marianne raised the stick over her head.

A young child stepped into the clearing.

She gasped and relaxed her arms.  “How old are you?”

“Six.”

“Where are your parents?”

“Dead.”

The matter-of-fact tone caught Marianne off-guard.  “What’s your name?”

“Carrie Benton.”

Marianne leaned forward so her eyes were at the girl’s level.  “Carrie, can you take me to your family?”

They walked a circuitous route in between tents before Carrie stopped and pointed.  Marianne moved forward and saw two rigid men in sleeping bags beneath a make-shift tent.

“They been sick,” Carrie said.  “Daddy and my uncle.”

A breeze slid through the campsite, flapping canvas and fanning the stench of death.  Marianne leaned against a battered supply wagon and heaved, supper barely missing her boots.  Shaky and weak, she grabbed a wool blanket.  She kneeled down and said a prayer for their souls’ safe-keeping and covered the men.

Marianne smoothed her skirts and took the girl’s hand.  “You can stay with me.”

***

Read more…

Covert Operations

July 21, 2014

My older son and I are going through a thing right now:  I don’t like to be lied to, and he likes to lie to see what he can get away with.  Lately, it’s been a game for him.  A tiring, ridiculous game that I began to think I might not “win.”

An anonymous tip (okay, my mother-in-law) may have turned the tide.

Last night, my husband got a cryptic text from his mom ssuggesting he raid my son’s room.  We don’t allow food upstairs, for one good reason.  Here… a picture’s worth a thousand words:

Room

Can you imagine food thrown into that mess? Or the pests that such slobbery would attract? {shivers}

I digress.

While my son was outside playing basketball with a neighbor, my husband bagged up the hidden treasures; enough sugar to rot the teeth of eight children.

Stash

What to do next…

1)      We could ask him about the candy and give him an opportunity to lie to our faces

2)      We could hide the candy without saying anything (yet) and wait.

Of course, he won’t come right out and ask where his candy is – that would be admitting guilt.  But one day, it will come up in conversation.  It will be subtle (maybe a photo of the confiscated sugar left on his pillow?) but he will have no question that we know.

However we proceed, it will be clear that we trust until trust is broken.  And trust has been broken. He will know that his room isn’t off limits from the rules of our house.

This may seem a bit overboard for a bag of sugar, but there’s more at stake here.  Next month, he will be twelve and I know there are things much worse than sugar that he could choose to hide.

He needs to know that we look because we care.

I’m not kidding myself; I know he won’t appreciate us caring.  He will be furious that we assert our right to search and seizure.  He will likely resent our infringement upon his “rights.”  I’m aware he likely won’t gain understanding until years later.

Possibly when he’s checking the room of his own child.

At least we’ll know we didn’t trust blindly.

So, what do you think we should do with the “evidence”?  We might was well have some fun with this!

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