Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Missing: Comfort and Joy

I have a pair of socks. They're not just any pair of socks. They are sweaters for my feet. Knit stripes of orange, pink, and brown. Pom-poms dangling jauntily from the ankles. Two layers of toasty, cuddly warmth. Little nubbins on the bottom so I don't slip. Pure, unadulterated comfort.

They are like a dear friend, these socks. True, they haven't been through as much with me as, say, my fluffy purple sweatshirt. But these socks have potential to prove themselves just as loyal.

That is, they had that potential until they disappeared.

I haven't seen them in days.

My feet have launched an all-out hunt for them. Working together, they have searched even the most unlikely of places for my socks. The basement. The toy box.

Even under the couch where there's room only for crumbs and the smallest of dust bunnies...

I think they've run away, these socks. I can't help but feel that I did something that prompted them to leave. Left them on the cold floor. Pulled them on after a long day of work in dress shoes. Didn't paint my toenails or trim them to a pleasant length.

My feet have watched for their return, but in vain.

My feet are in mourning tonight. Saddened by the loss of dear friends. Missing the comfort of their presence on cold, rainy, and windy nights. Like tonight.

Dear socks, why have you forsaken us?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Santa's Flight

[Insert Sigh Here]

Any Random Then

I am incredibly unmotivated. Perhaps its the chill in the air that makes me feel like all I want to do is wrap up in front of the fire and take a nap. Maybe it's the fact that McDonald's had a water pump issue and I couldn't get an orange Hi-C with my lunch (which, believe me, is pretty tragic in my book). It could be the fact that I lost my favorite pair of comfy slipper-socks and I'm really, really put out by their absence.

In any case, I just don't feel like doing anything, least of all blogging. I had intended to work on another prompt, but the next one on my list did little for me. I decided to skip that one and try something else. About halfway through, I trashed it. It bored me and seemed pedantic and juvenile.

So here I now sit. Wishing for my favorite socks. Wishing for inspiration. Wishing my sweet tea were Hi-C. Wishing it weren't so darned cold outside so I could go to a local miner's village and take pictures. Wishing my head weren't pounding with frustration.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

On the Farm


Light on the Hill

I miss living on the family farm. It helps that my father still works and lives on a farm, but I miss the one I grew up on. I miss the old hills that I used to climb, especially the one behind our house. I would sit up there for hours, looking over our farm and the one neighboring us. I would dream of becoming rich and famous so I could build my parents a new house at the top of that hill.

I miss the old woods. I would trek out there at least once a week in the summer, getting lost in the shade of pine trees. I would daydream in there for hours, imagining the magical beasts and mythical beings who must have lived out there and hid when I came near.

I miss the stream that ran through the pasture. I would spend hours catching crayfish or digging for fossils. On hot summer days, I would wade through the cool water and, on wetter years, would put on my bathing suit and sit in the middle of deep swimming holes.

I miss the lower pasture with its twin willow trees. They were huge, overhanging the stream in tendrils of leaves that seemed like curtains that protected me from the outside world. One of the trees had been struck by lightning; it was split down the center and it's massive limbs lay on the ground, perfect benches when one needed to rest.

I miss it all. How silly I was to have wished it all away in the trivial passions of my youth.

#2 "The Last Piece of Pie"

She would not give him the last piece of pie. She stood at the counter, spatula in hand and dessert plate at her elbow, hovering over the last piece of pumpkin pie. She had spent over an hour making it the day before. Had pulled the dog-eared index card with her grandmother's unmistakable handwriting out of the wooden box of family recipes. Had faithfully measured each ingredient. Had even taken the time to use a fresh pumpkin rather than just grabbing a can of pumpkin pie mix from the grocery store.

Everyone had said it had tasted perfect, "just like Grandma used to make!" She had fairly beamed with pride as she watched everyone dig in, the freshly made whipped cream dolloped on in abundant heaps. Even her mother-in-law, who never had a nice thing to say about anything, had shrugged with acquiescence at the superb flavor.

And now, she stood over the last piece. It was to be her breakfast. She had thought about it all night. A slice of pie, a warm cup of coffee, the morning paper and a crossword puzzle at the breakfast table in the sun room. A perfect start. Until he had come grumbling down the steps, hair standing on end, his bare feet slapping on the hardwood floor. He had poured a mug of coffee, not bothering to get one for her, shoved the paper under his arm, and glanced with bleary eyes at the pie and plate on the counter.

"Hey. Throw that on a plate for me, would ya?"

She stood there, ready to comply as she usually did, too eager to please others. She thought of her plan, how she had wanted to start her day. She thought of his selfish ways, listened to him slurping on his coffee. But what was she to do?

Sighing, she scooped the pie up with the spatula. Spinning toward the plate, she moved too fast and the slice of pie slid right off, landing with a splat on the floor. She and her husband stared downward, the pie at their feet. He shook his head at her in frustration, slapping the paper down on the counter as he did so.

"Well, so much for that!" He grabbed his mug and stomped out of the kitchen.

Smirking, she leaned down, scooped the pie up, and flipped it over onto the plate. A quick inspection. Poured herself a generous mug of coffee. Slipped the paper under her arm, grabbing the mug and plate.

She was still smirking as she dug into the first bite. Give him the last piece of pie, indeed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Creative Writing Exercise: Clutter

I found a great resource on the Internet today: Daily 5. It's a series of 365 creative writing activities. Yes! I don't know that I really have the perseverance or dedication to hit all 365 in as many days, but even if it takes me six years, it will still be worth it!

So here is the first one. I'll only list the date as the exercises are not mine to share. If you follow the above link, you can see what the original prompt was.

January 1 (Might as well start from the start, right?):

(I chose to only do the first)

She looked up at the large mirror at the top of the vanity table. She didn't see her own reflection; instead, she let her eyes wander over myriad snapshots tucked into the edges of the frame. Photos of date nights and family gatherings and vacations. Some had started to yellow, their edges crisp, with age. Shaking her head to rid her brain of unwelcome sadness, she focused again on her reflection. Lipstick, she thought, and she reached into the small drawer to her right. Ten, fifteen lipsticks from which to choose. She poked through them, pushing aside the somber brown she had worn to Frank's funeral twenty years earlier and trying to ignore the vamp red one she had shocked him by wearing on their first anniversary. Finally, she found a tube that was less than five years old. She rubbed her lips with Vaseline before smearing a pale mauve over top of them.

She had spent nearly an hour getting ready so far. She had fumbled through foundations, concealers, and blushes. Given up on choosing from the spectrum of eye shadow colors, settling on plain black mascara that was well past its prime. Straightened her hair, then curled her hair, then settled on a low ponytail that she hoped made her look young though she feared it only emphasized the feathery wrinkles at the corners of her eyes.

Faking satisfaction at her appearance, she turned to the left. Two drawers and three boxes of jewelry, sorted by costume and real, daily or dress. She reached for the smallest of the boxes and opened it. A faded velvet ring box was nestled in the lower right corner, her engagement ring tucked inside. She pulled it out, opened it, and pulled her wedding band from her left ring finger. Rolling it between her index finger and thumb, she chewed on her lower lip before closing the ring box. She slid the band onto her right hand and closed the jewelry box.

Opening the second box, she pushed aside the bracelet Frank had given her on their third date and tried to ignore the pang in her heart as she glanced at the heart-shaped locket he'd given her the night before their wedding. A pouch containing a simple set of pearls that she'd bought at the department store were at the bottom of the box, and she chose them.

Rising from the small, upholstered bench, she walked in stocking-clad feet to the closet. She pulled the string that turned on the single, bare bulb that lit up the closet's interior. Frank's second-best suit was tucked in right next to her only black dress, the one she'd worn to his funeral. She pushed both of them aside as she tried to find her white cashmere sweater amongst Frank's old dress shirts. She finally noticed it, right next to the Hawaiian shirt she'd bought him the Christmas that she'd surprised him with tickets to Hawaii. Tears filled her eyes. That had been their last vacation together. A month later, he'd found the lump. A year later he was gone.

She couldn't do this. Putting the sweater back on her hanger, she instead pulled out Frank's worn bathrobe. She padded over to the phone on Frank's nightstand, pushing aside his reading glasses and his favorite novel in order to grab the receiver. She pushed her wedding band back onto her left hand as she waited for someone to answer.

"Carol? It's Margot. Could you call Patrick and tell him I have a headache; I won't be able to go...Carol, please...I know...I know how long it's been. Just call and tell him, okay?"

Setting the phone back down, she reclined on the bed, her head on Frank's pillow. She pulled his favorite sweater from beneath the pillow, inhaled the cologne he had worn, the same cologne she sprinkled on it once a week.

Margot wept.

Look Silly? Who Cares?!

I'm camera shy.

I realized it while I lay wide awake at 3:00 a.m. this morning. Well, in actuality, I realized it a while ago, but I really thought about it this morning.

I hate to be an obtrusive photographer. I don't like to make people feel awkward by constantly poking my camera in their faces. Moreso, I have always been shy about taking photographs when no one else is and of things no one else takes pictures of.

So at 3:00 this morning I was thinking that I can't be much of a photographer if I'm not willing to look silly for a couple of seconds. After all, isn't photography sometimes about showing the beauty of things that may be otherwise overlooked?

Yesterday was my first step in correcting that. While at my in-laws, I took pictures. Not just of the family members who had gathered. Oh no. I took pictures of things that I wanted to take pictures of!

The table before we sat down to eat.

A silk plant in the foyer.

My mother-in-law's doll collection.

The picture window in the dining room.

And the wine for the day's feast.

They're not perfect, not processed in any way. But I took them and didn't care a bit how strange I looked lining up the shot.

It's a start!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Little Things

My son was restless and started to wake up around 4:00 this morning. It was that semi-waking state of murmurings and attempts to snuggle back into the bed. Finally, he crawled over and cuddled with me, his head and body across my chest, our hearts and breathing synchronized. At one point, he sat up, looked down at me, and said, "Hi Mommy" in the sweetest little voice. He wrapped his hands around my neck and hugged me for all he was worth.

At that point, it was still only 4:30 in the morning. I wanted to be asleep. And on some nights I would have been a little annoyed at this intrusion into my sleep. This morning? I didn't care. I'm so thankful to have him that some lost sleep is insignificant in comparison.

As I lay there for the next hour (until he sat up and asked to go downstairs), I thought about things for which I'm thankful. Of course, like most, I'm thankful for friends and family. I know that I am extremely blessed to have been given so many wonderful people in my life. I'm thankful for my husband; he is my perfect mate. My son? Forget about it; I'm beyond thankful for him.

But I started thinking about little things that I maybe take for granted or overlook. Things I'm thankful for without generally thinking about them. So here's a list: Ten Little Things for which I Am Thankful!

1. Freshly brewed coffee sipped slowly in front of the fire on a cold, quiet morning.
2. Hubby turning to me at the end of a long day and saying, "Want to get something to eat somewhere?"
3. Randomly flipping through channels on the television and finding out that a favorite movie is just starting.
4. Honest compliments that come out of the blue...and come on days when you really needed to hear them.
5. Nights when the little guy goes to sleep early and I have an hour or two to write, to read, or to work on photography.
6. Going into the kitchen just before bed to pack Hubby's lunch and finding that he packed it hours ago.
7. Being in the middle of something and suddenly being wrapped up in a huge hug, while the little guy kisses me and says, "I yub you."
8. Listening to my son giggle and laugh while he's still sound asleep.
9. Putting on a pair of pants that were a little snug and finding that I need a belt.
10. Breathing. It's a small, involuntary action that means I'll have another day to find things for which I should be thankful!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Visit?

I have always been a vivid dreamer, and I have often wished that I could record my dreams and market them as movies. Some of them would make Avatar look like Ishtar, if I may be a bit sacreligious.

I have also had what I call "visitation" dreams. It has only happened three times previously where I've dreamed about someone who has passed away. In these dreams, that person has come back to visit me and share a message with me in some way. Usually they are messages of comfort, though I once dreamed of my husband's grandmother whom I never had the pleasure to meet. She gave me her blessing.

Last night, I had a visitation dream. Except the person in it is still alive. And now I'm feeling a little disconcerted and sad....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The wind was blowing harder than I think it's ever blown around here. Harder, at least, than it's blown in the last eight years. You could hear it howling, and I even think you could feel the house shift and move. Considering that I live in a brick home, that's no small feat.

I stepped onto the back porch to see just how powerful the wind was and immediately went back in the house. Not because the wind forced me back in. Because I needed my camera.

On a branch completely bare of all leaves, there was one tenacious leaf that still clung. It whipped and flipped about, was blown to the limit of its stem.

I admired it. It didn't quit, didn't give up. It's possibilities of success were slim. It was only a matter of time before the wind won and snapped the leaf's fragile stem. But it continued to cling to that branch.

I continue to cling to dreams from my childhood. Sometimes I give those dreams a more realistic spin, but sometimes I have an all-out fantasy of achieving the childhood goal of becoming Nancy Drew or being a fashion designer in Paris. The latter is just fantasies, an attempt to daydream my way into a detox of a difficult day.

But there are other dreams that are feasible and attainable. I want to write. I've published and I want to publish more. I want to take pictures that move people.

I want to have the tenacity to actively pursue my dreams.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When I Grow Up

"I don't know what I want to be when I grow up."

I've said that many times over the past few years, but I just realized that those words aren't exactly the truth. It wasn't that I was lying as I said those words; I just didn't think about them as fully as I have tonight. To be more accurate, I should have said:

"This isn't what I want to be when I grow up." Or "I don't know how to  be what I want to be when I grow up."

Sometimes there is a profound difference between doing what you want and doing the right thing. I know what I want to do, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the life I've built for my little family just to satisfy a selfish whim to fully engage in my hobbies rather than following the career path I set for myself. Some would tell me that I am cheating myself, but I think it's better to be disenchanted than to be homeless.

Still, I think I must better find ways to express my creativity. I've dabbled in this and that, but I think that it is time to focus.

Perhaps this is the start.