Thanksgiving was the single, quietest eating event of my life. Mom had gone to visit cousin Deb for a few days and would be there Thanksgiving. No turkey around here. No dressing. No pie. No aromas and no leftovers. (But Christmas dinner looms and I'll make up for that.) Sister invited me over to her house but the truth was I was under the weather with the flub which is what you have when you have had your flu shot but have symptoms that come crashing in on Wednesday that are highly suspicious and cause you to miss the annual Parnassus decorating party of which you take great pleasure. So Flubbed up and no decorating and no dressing. I finally webblewobbled my way over to my sons to watch the new Kurt Russell Christmas movie which we both gave two Kurt Russell fans thumbs up and then I came home and went straight to bed. At seven.
The Charmings were scheduled to arrive the next afternoon and I was in hopes that I would survive the visit. Three small children equal sixteen hundred small children when you have the flub. To Which led me to creating THE MASTER PLAN. Otherwise KNOWN AS A SCHEDULE. Instead of a romping up the stairs down the stairs free for all of giddy wonder and oh, boy, oh, boy and Zaza this and Zaza that - we would abide by a list of acceptable activities ONE AT A TIME. Sickness will force you to figure some things out. Somehow, by the grace of what comes with being ZAZA and possessing a Magic Marker - we made it through movie night with homemade popcorn, sleeping bags, superhero pajamas.
We pulled out all stops and aprons and made Pancakes for breakfast in helper on the footstool modes instead of the easy go to - cereal and feed yourself. We had drawing time, story time, nap time, bath and bubbles time, truck time, and even a short variation of load up for fresh air we are going to the park time.
All of which I tick-tocked off the list with a sigh of relief because I was hanging in there and making it. But then just as we were rounding the corner for night two of family movie time, sleeping bag and spaghetti time (not necessarily in that order,) Kevin the rescue dog began barking furiously so that THE Damon had to rush out to the front porch to see what all the fuss was about and we hear this NOISE that is not immediately recognizable because it is nighttime and it is clip, clop, clip, clop with a solid dog bark beat and Kevin rushing to the road where a horse comes into view with a rider wearing a lighted helmet and Damon screams ZAZA A MAN I RIDING A HORSE IN THE NIGHT BY OUR HOUSE! even though I am standing right next to him. A man riding a horse through the night was not on my schedule of activities. I call Kevin who is chasing the horse and because I am being Estelle's granddaughter and was raised by the tribe of Eeyore I immediately have visions of tragedy and doom, of the dog getting stomped to death by the horse which will be all the worse because Damon will witness it and the other boys will come out to see what's happening and I will have to call their daddy at work and this is going to be one of the worst nights of their lives. Only it isn't because even though I call Kevin he doesn't come but when Damon calls him he turns around and runs and runs. And every time he stops to catch his breath and Damon calls him he runs and runs again. And every time he stops to catch his breath - (as I said - we live up on a hill) And this keeps happening because when I call him he acts like he may be actually slowing down and thinking of chasing the horse again but when Damon calls he picks up speed and starts running again and Damon cracks up laughing so hard about this that he can't catch his breath and so I begin laughing too. Because laughing, thank God is contagious. Then he comes up with
DAMON'S BIG IDEA
And says - HEY DO YOU JUST WANT TO STAY OUT HERE FOR AWHILE. We can just sit here and we can light these lanterns which is also not on my schedule but because I have drug all the plants BACK OUT TO THE PORCH for one last HURRAH of Sunshine and there is a little fuel left in those mosquito lanterns and because I am a ZAZA I say ok - so Damon rushing in the house and go's, HEY GUYS (who are watching Wreck It Ralph for the third time because they love it so) WANT TO COME OUTSIDE and SIT ON THE PORCH?!!! WE're gonna LIGHT THE LANTERNS Like it is the niftiest thing to happen in the year 2018 and BECAUSE I am a ZAZA I remember I have stashed two packages of that magical madness known as SPARKLERS leftover from the forth of JULY and we pull those down out of the pantry and light the lanterns and light the sparklers and the NINE year old Michael who is becoming old and wise now and evolving says, I'm gonna use my phone (that only takes pictures and videos) to take pictures first and then I'll hold one, so he captures this magical moment of lamplight and sparklers and laughter and I think - these kids. Without them I'd just be all flubbed up and nothing else. No magic lights. No laughter. Then son calls from work and says I just want to make certain you guys- ARE LOOKING AT THE MOON so we have to run to the back back porch where we can see through the trees and see the full, yellow moon rising and for a moment I forget about - everything. All the reasons that my heart is heavy. The burning of Paradise, the destruction of the Gulf Coast, the rattle and hum of the constant undercurrent of my worries about this and undone that. Right in the middle of illness and anxiousness there is nothing but this moment, these three little boys with Ryder on my lap and them looking up at our one, big, beautiful yellow, full moon - and they were cheering because a big, yellow moon is worth cheering over.
And so is this moment right here to still be fully alive with the wind whipping on the hill, the night leaves falling at our feet and the moonlight just as magical as it ever was.
May your week make way for magic and God whisper the greatest of tidings in such a way that you may hear the words.
Yesterday was pure magic. First it was Sunday and it felt like a sabbath. A kind of quiet day given over to prayer and introspection, rest and reflection. To reading. Early in the morning the fog was rising in the little valley but the sun there at the edge of the world at sunrise was promising. The wind had turned and was blowing in from the East. The Summer was past and it let me know that soon the wind would turn, tunnel down from the North and I could feel all these things down in my soul. That it was time to pile wood, to ready for Winter. It was the first day where it felt as if that old clock known as seasons had shifted. No more Indian Summer days that surprised us with warmth and promise. Now the wind held a chill, shook the trees that cast off their leaves by the hundreds. I watched them sweep and pile at my feet. The world on the hill was quiet. The traffic kept its peace.
Lately, I've been embracing Sunday's for reading. A curl up in bed or sit on the porch kind of day to allow myself this luxury. Not reading for work, or after work or just before bed. But reading as a center-point of the day. A spoke of a wheel. And since it is Sunday I've laid aside all types of reading and picked up a habit of reading those things that reflect or embrace a spiritual side of life. In some way. This is a wild, sweep of a description since it encompasses so much. Books like Leif Enger's Peace Like a River would fall into my Sunday category. Yesterday, I picked up Mark Richard's House of Prayer No. 2. Roy Blount, Jr. described this work as "Hot damn! and Glory Be!" and I think that is a fine assessment. I've never met Mr. Richard's but I read this book years ago when an author friend, Michael Morris was kind enough to mail it to me with a note that said - I think you will like this book. And, he was right. I like it as much the 2nd time around as I did the first and am highly recommending it to those people who are studying writing with me to add it to their library of books that lead by example.
So, I read and watched the leaves fall and said my prayers. And read a book on prayer that is meaty and in it's upteeth printing since the 1940s and it requires that I concentrate on the words. And then think about them. And then underline some and think about them some more. It's Harry Emerson Fosdick's book on The Meaning of Prayer. I picked it up in the throw away free books at McKay's when I went in to find season 3 of that very, expensive soap opera known as POLDARK for me and Mama to watch. The Poldark's have just about worn us out with their problems but we are hanging in there trying to help the story find a happy ending. Which may never be forthcoming since PBS is now on Season 4. We are almost caught up with our binge watching evenings and then we will have to return to Antique Road Show and the Golden Girls to find something to agree on until the next big thing comes along.
Last night it grew dark early. Mom had gone over to Sisters to visit, little dog Duncan had gone to the sitters and for a moment Kevin the rescue dog and I sat in the growing evening shadows as I read House of Prayer No. 2 and the house was still and silent. The rain had started and was steady, the wind still shaking the branches, raining down in gusts acorns that are golf ball size and clack, clack, clack against the roof. The birds defied the wind and clung to the feeders eating as they were spun around and around and around. There was a kind of peace that defies the stress that so easily besets us these days. On every level.
For a few moments I quit worrying about things and was just a reading woman, sitting by an empty fireplace. I kept looking up from the page knowing that soon and very, soon I'd be layering log upon log, smoking up the old house in such a way that everything in it including me will smell like wood smoke until Spring. So be it. Seasons come and seasons go. And my soul is learning to rest in this knowledge and to count my blessings.
Today's facebook post was specifically designed for Monday's. If you don't follow or friend yet I hope you will. I realize that there seems to be a world of people out there all in the same boat, trying to keep hope afloat without realizing we are not alone. That we are on this journey together and remembering to be that to each other, fellow travelers, helps lighten our load.
If you haven't signed up for my newsletter on the homepage I hope you will join me there. In the meantime, may your week be bountiful in grace and mercy and all good things.
It's been all monumentally, simple moments up on the hill. Summer has basically come and almost gone while I wasn't looking.
The shutters are still a project. Lying half painted and waiting. I have to admit I'll give them credit they don't yell at me like other inanimate objects. Like my laptop. It whispers all the time. Words, words, words. The shutters wait with a quiet confidence that I'll return and they'll be all firecracker red in no time. The laptop, it sometimes shutters a little in fear. As if all of time will pass by and the words I was meant to write will rest inside of me for all time.
I'm listening in the quiet places. Somedays I live another life instead of writing. Somedays I fill the plastic pool and buy a watermelon and pick up the Charmings (the duo that makes up part of the wolf pack when all the littles are together.) and say HEY - WANT TO HAVE SOME ZAZA FUN? And they act like I walk on water, that I have superpowers, that I am someone really important. Higher ranking than any queen or diplomat. Then they climb in my car and I take them to the pool and cut the watermelon and they stand in one foot of water with watermelon slices, red juice running down their arms and grin at each other and nod their hands like - IS THIS NOT THE BEST LIFE EVER???? Zaza is fighting something and a little under the weather but they don't need to know this and in this moment - it is the best day ever. And then we watered flowers and drew pictures and played with trucks and lit sparklers on the front porch and watched a movie. And that was a very, good day.
Life still opens up slowly up on the hill. The fog lifts and changes shapes, finds the trees, climbs higher. On my better days I'm up in time to watch this show take place. It settles me and sets the tone. Breathe it says. Just breathe. And God says things. Like yes and I know. And, just breathe.
I'm on the road now which seems to be my natural state of being. Wheels moving across the asphalt where they can just keep on moving like we'll just drive into the hereafter if we don't slow down. I've snuck off to a coffee house because the house is still sleeping. Mama and cousins so as soon as I open my eyes and say thank you God I'm still breathing, the world is still spinning, gravity is not lost - I think COFFEE like I need an IV fix, pull on jeans a shirt I've worn three days running, grab laptop bag and find the closest coffee shop. It's a new one for me. I so long to head over the bridge and park in St. Andrews where writer friend Tony Simmons hangs but I'm sticking close to the family this am. So I'm at a new place. Finn's it's called. Attached to the old Mr. Surf's. A hangout of my teenage years.
There's a guy talking Jesus. I know this because he has said Jesus a few times and then mentioned Corinthians. I gotta say, he looks healthy. That kind of tan and juicing healthy that some people look. Not like vampires that have been up late singing King of the Road at Cousin Deb's backyard Karoke bar. I bet he went to bed at an earlier hour. Now I notice praise music is playing on the speakers. They have soy candles for sell and raw almonds and hemp seeds and bottles of wine for sale. This is good. All of it is good.
I put in earphones and play David Gray's Babylon. Again. It's my new over and over and over song.
And read a few pages of Always We Begin Again. The tiniest of books. Evidence that the weight of words isn't measured by the length of them. I make a note to read the meditation, Each Day on the air on Clearstory Radio next Wednesday. Being back on the air is like slipping on an old coat. One I've missed and get to remember brand new all over again. It's a strange little mixture of words and songs all celebrating living a creative life with soul.
The news. Greece hurt me. People driven to cliffs to try to find the sea, to escape. Families clinging to one another in a last embrace knowing they will die. Found that way. A thousand million words couldn't say more to me than that image in my heart which spoke volumes of all that we hold dear and love and the best of who we are. One last embrace.
Today is my friend Fran's Birthday. She happened to be mother to one of my best friends, grandmother to three gorgeous girls who continue to bless my life just by knowing them. But she was also a friend with open arms, a great supporter of so many authors. A lover of story, a compassionate, passionate person full wonder. She was - and still is - a part of the magic that makes up my life.
Today I hope you find the magic that makes your life worthy of every blessed minute we have here together. I'll be back soon.
Peace and promises,
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.