Way way back in early August, Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine tagged me for a “little fun and distraction.” Before I could respond, I got distracted! Finally, I’m taking the opportunity to play.

As usual, there are a few rules:

Use the Blue Sky banner  (that Rachael Ritchey designed).

It is sort of polite to mention the person who tagged you.

You need to answer the 11 questions set by your tagger.

You will need to make up 11 original and interesting or funny questions for those you tag.

You need to tag 11 people.

Here are Sally’s 11 questions:

1. What was the name of your first pet and what did you love most about them?
My first pet (that I remember) was a beagle named Gypsy. She was lovable and lived with me during my entire childhood. It wasn’t until I went off to college that she passed away. I have a special place in my heart for dogs that can’t resist porcupines and roll in anything that stinks.

2. If you could meet anyone from history, who would you meet and why?
Hmm. Probably Jesus. I’d like him to clear up all the misinterpretations that are tearing people apart. I’d videotape and share on TV.

3. What is the most common misconception people have about you?
Maybe that I’m outgoing… I’m an extreme introvert.

4. If you could buy any car in the world what would it be and why?
A 1950’s era Chevy Univeral pickup truck. It’s what I rode around in during high school and brings back fun memories.

e-zchassisswaps.com

5. Do you have a hobby your friends don’t know about?
Some friends may not know that I enjoy painting to relax. Here are a few pictures:

6. What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?
Avatar. 2009! There just aren’t any theaters near me.

7. Describe your perfect day?
Totally alone, lying on a hammock, reading.

 

8. Summer or winter?
I like spring and autumn. Darn, not the options! Summers are over-the-top hectic around here (not good for introverts), and I’m usually desperate to hibernate by the onset of autumn. Winters in the rainforest are long and dreary, rainy and vitamin-D starved. The only good thing about them is I’m stuck inside WRITING!

9. Looks or Personality?
Personality, definitely! I couldn’t care less about looks.

10. City or countryside?
I’m a country girl at heart and live out in the woods without neighbors. Cities have great restaurants and I love good food, so I’m not completely writing them off.

11. Action or comedy?
When it comes to life, I’ll go with comedy. When it comes to writing, I’ll choose action. Though my preference for movies can go either way, my husband and I watch lots of action movies because he’s ten.

Now for my 11 questions:

  1. What country have you never visited but would love to, and why?
  2. What person in your life (not including family members) has most shaped who you are today?
  3. List three things that make you happy?
  4. What’s your favorite genre to read?
  5. What time period in history most intrigues you, and why?
  6. If you could add a new talent to your repertoire, what would it be, and why?
  7. Where is your favorite place in the world, and why?
  8. What animal best describes your personality, and why?
  9. What’s your favorite recipe (and please share it)?
  10. Hiking boots, sneakers, heels, or flip-flops?
  11. Would you rather have tons of love and little wealth, or tons of wealth and little love?

And I tag… everyone who wants to play. Enjoy!

And be sure to stop by Sally’s and check out her amazing blog. If you write, read, travel, eat, or enjoy learning something new, her blog is a great place to visit. 🙂

#Blue Sky Tag – Time for a little fun and distraction…#TGIF

Fall #Writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

Mrs. N planted moss around the bubbling waterfall and wiped her muddy hands on her jeans. Thank the stars that autumn was yoohooing at the garden gate. Summer was Mrs. N’s most hectic time with keeping the property up and making it look pretty for the residents. No doubt about it, everything grew like weeds—assuming there was such a thing—but it still required knuckle-swelling, knee-creaking work!

She preferred a natural-looking landscape, but even that took planning. “Meticulous design is the foundation to success,” the boss man insisted, even if most people didn’t realize it when marveling over the results. And honestly, that was the point, wasn’t it? Nature was supposed to look natural.

And it wasn’t only about plants; there were animals scurrying and flitting about. The perfect garden had to take them into account too. As usual, she’d planted wildflowers here and there for a lively surprise and to satisfy the bees and butterflies.

This year had been dry, and sprinkling raindrops on roses had taken an ocean of effort. She smiled at the waterfall and checked the crumpled list of chores she wrestled from her back pocket. Seed-gathering! That had started way back in July, for heaven’s sake. Envelopes lined her garden bench with thousands of varieties, gazillions really, at least that’s what her aching back told her.

Some perennials needed to be divided, but she was too worn out for that. They’d grow or die off—survival of the fittest didn’t only apply to creatures with teeth and feet. And she’d resigned herself decades ago to just flinging her bulbs willy-nilly. The leaves would cover them in a few weeks, and she’d consider them planted!

She sighed at the grass stains on her knees as autumn bellowed and rattled the gate. Tuckered out, Mrs. N made the same deal with herself that she made every year. Screw it. Time for some fun.

With renewed vigor, she rummaged through her shed. Autumn… autumn was for artists, and Mrs. N was the top of her class, a master, even better than that Dutch guy. Autumn was where she shined. It was messy and creative, a free-for-all celebration after the endless toil of summer.

She lugged her cans of color into the sunlight, all the ones she’d restocked last winter, including an array of scarlets and golds, pumpkin and vermillion, a touch of eggplant and jay blue. With a rusty screwdriver, she popped off the lids.

After swigging down three bottles of hard cider, she did some stretches to limber up. A bit tipsy, she threw open the gate and let autumn burst into the yard. The two of them twirled through her garden in a drunken dance, giggling and snorting and splattering color with fat brushes until the place was a messy, vibrant masterpiece.

With a satisfied yawn, Mrs. N settled into her lawn chair, content to let autumn fling the last drops from the cans. She put her feet up and admired their work. When autumn too wore herself out and disappeared through the gate, as she always did, Mrs. N snuggled under her white blanket and dreamed about spring.

***

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the colorful autumn #Writephoto prompt.

I’m on the road again with sketchy internet. I hope you enjoy and will respond to comments and return visits as soon as I’m able. Enjoy!

 

An update… Life rolls onward

Mom in 2014

My brother Justin and I arrived in Colorado to whisper our goodbyes to our mom.

It turned out that she’d contracted E-coli, and while the illness raged through her intestines, it also caused kidney damage and cardiac complications. In her already weakened state, it was draining what was left of her strength.

I sat vigil in her hospital room, slept on a bench, aided the amazing nurses, and after 9 exhausting days in intensive care, my mom’s health began to improve.

In the meantime, two hours away, my dad contracted E-coli (I learned later that CNN reported the outbreak). Justin and I were on double duty, driving, caretaking, and cleaning! The old codger refused to go to the hospital, and he was strong enough that we decided not to drag him there by his ears. He remains at home and is recovering.

My mom is still terribly frail but has been moved to a rehabilitation center as a step toward going home. I remain hopeful and will be facilitating her transition home and then moving them both to senior housing near Justin and me as soon as space becomes available.

I’m home for a few days and then back to Colorado this weekend. Life has been topsy-turvy, the blog suffers from neglect, best-laid plans are in shambles, but I have no regrets for being part of my mom’s last weeks or years, whatever comes. Writing? What’s that? Haha!

Blogging will be sporadic during October as I travel back and forth, and I’ve been contemplating a few changes for the new year – all fun writerly stuff! I hope to visit everyone during this brief respite at home, but I don’t expect I’ll post frequently until things settle down. Thank you all for your kind wishes and concern. I have thought of you often over the last two weeks.

 

Go Gently into that Good Night

My dear sweet mother is nearing the end of her life, and I find myself suddenly dashing for the airport. I will be away from the blog for a few weeks.

This beautiful poem and the accompanying photos by Sue Vincent speak eloquently of the arc of life as expressed through flowers. I encourage you to read it to the end. I have closed comments here, simply because I would feel obligated to reply, and my heart is elsewhere. But trust that I know you wish me peace and comfort. Please enjoy this stunning poem.

Flowers

There were always flowers.

Orchids pinned upon a mother’s breast,

All lace and diamonds.

Long black gloves

And painted lips,

As she left, laughing.

A child who watched

As the door closed.

There were flowers…

Yellow tulips,

Cellophane and ribbon

A girl who blushed

As the curtain fell

Upon the stage;

She cradled them,

A first bouquet.

There were flowers

Roses and lilies

White, in hands and hair,

Their fragrance mingled…

 

Continue reading at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

 

 

Autumn

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In celebration of Colleen’s 100th poetry challenge! A haibun/tanka.

Autumn

I love autumn, even though it’s a season of dying. There’s no ignoring the withering of vines and weeds, the fading light and deepening chill. Leaves cease gobbling up sunlight and chlorophyll breaks down. The green ripeness withdraws, revealing shades of canary yellow, pumpkin, and fire-engine red… before crisping to brown. How softly life let’s go. With a breath of wind, it drifts and returns to the earth. Nature is wise, isn’t she… to make this time of dying so beautiful? There are lessons in each of her rolling seasons. The graceful fall of Fall mirrors my experience working in hospice. If we are lucky we will spend our autumns like the leaves, in beauty and glory, bright and brisk of spirit, joyous and beloved… and let go with a whisper to dance on the wind.

I glide with the wind
in autumn’s celebration
gold and vermillion
a confetti of crimson
dying in graceful beauty

At the Mirror: Incredible Eyes

Basilike Pappa of Silent Hour writes wondrous poetry and prose. She also shares some exquisitely written artwork by others. This flash story of hers struck my fancy. Suspense, romance, mystery, fantasy, and humor all wrapped into one. Enjoy.

Incredible Eyes

by Vassiliki Pappa

It was a night like many others. It involved me and an old book of fairytales I wanted to be alone with. The book wanted to be with me too; its leather-clad spine fit perfectly in my hand. I curled with it on the sofa and soon forgot everything else in the world.

After a couple of hours, I looked up and out of the balcony. I only wanted to give my eyes some rest and to get a glimpse of the night outside. The moon looked back at me and I smiled. It was actually a streetlamp, but I liked to think of it as a full moon.

And then I saw him: a midnight-black rooster, with blood-red comb and wattles, and eyes fixed on me. He was standing still in the middle of my balcony, with something of the dandy in his stance. He obviously has a way with hens, I thought. Indeed, the more I looked at him, the more I knew that, had I been a hen, I would love to have him jump on me and peck on my neck. Our chicks would be midnight-black, with blood-red comb and wattles. But I would like them to have my eyes…

(Continue reading: Incredible Eyes)

The Miracle of Reading

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I had another post prepared for today… but then a miracle happened…

I showed up at Tornado Boy’s house for two days of “Grammy Time.” Kindergarten doesn’t kick off until Tuesday and preschool ended early, leaving mom and dad in a lurch. When I walked in the door, I received my usual whirlwind of hugs, but the first question out of the tornado’s mouth was, “Do you want me to read a book to you?”

Not Legos, no request to build a spaceship or visit the park, no plea to use his old grammy as a jungle-gym. Nope.

“Do you want me to read a book to you?”

“Why, sure,” I replied, fully expecting a play by play narration through a picture book or a four-pager of his own creation.

I sat on the couch, and he climbed up beside me, tucked in tight, and opened Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop. Then page by page, he read me the entire book.

As I listened, I saw the world open up to him, a new superpower revealed, a lifetime of learning and adventure, of Treasure Island and Harry Potter, of Vonnegut and Cussler, Tolkien and Homer. He read to me slowly, sounding out the words, and he didn’t want my help when he got stuck. He was reading, and he too knew that something momentous was happening. He too recognized the magic in the letters and their sounds.

Just ask Jennie Fitzkee (A Teacher’s Reflections) about the power of reading aloud. We’ve read to Tornado Boy since the day he was born, and the local library has become a place of endless exploration. It’s paid off as another child discovers a world of imagination within his grasp, the miracle of words.

Grammy was so happy she could have cried. Then we played Legos, built a spaceship, went to the park, and wrestled. And he read Hop on Pop to me two more times.

Some favorite quotes about reading:

A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. —Victor Hugo

Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. —Anna Quindlen

Wear the old coat and buy the new book. —Austin Phelps

I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. —Jorge Luis Borges

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx