What am I looking for today? I honestly can’t say. Sleep perhaps. I spent all night fighting bad guys or being chased. I was supposed to save the world. But I could find no weapons. I ran. I hid. I climbed. I looked for anything I could use as a weapon, to no avail. I’m exhausted.
What am I looking for today? Inspiration. My brain feels empty, devoid of stories, of clever phrases, of words. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe ideas will fill the void.
What am I looking for today? The pictures of my father with his golf trophies. I promised my daughter I would send them to her for the memorial display she’s making. I put them somewhere very safe when I was cleaning out Dad’s stuff. For all I know, they could be in the freezer.
What am I looking for today? Energy. I have a lot to do. We’re going to Washington for our grandson’s birthday. We’re hired a house sitter for the first time ever. I feel a strong need to clean every drawer, every closet.
What am I looking for today? Time for a nap. An idea for what to make for dinner. The discipline to go to the gym. The focus to write something for my blog.
What am I looking for today? I really need to find those photos. I really need to figure out why I need to save the world when I should be sleeping. Warriors need their sleep.
The drone of a lawnmower makes me think of summer. Long days playing in the sun. The oily smell of gasoline overlays the almost sharp, herbaceous scent of freshly cut grass. It smells green. My daughters would say freshly mown grass smells like itchy skin and swollen eyes. Do those smell?
When I was a kid, I used to follow my dad when he mowed the lawn. Back and forth, back and forth stepping carefully in the lanes of freshly mown grass, my keds turning green. In my head, I was a pioneer, walking along the path to my new home. The covered wagon trailed behind us. I was nearly always a pioneer in my imagination. I don’t know why I was so enamored with the idea of traveling in a covered wagon. I thought it was the height of romance. This from a kid who had never been camping.
When I wasn’t a pioneer, I was a school teacher. In a one room school house, complete with a fireplace and a chalkboard. Rows of wooden desks. A large playground in back. I don’t know why I thought that would be fun.
My friends and I played make-believe a lot. I played make-believe when I was by myself. A lot. With all the characters I played in my head, I was never lonely, even when there was no one around.
Husband, Saturday afternoon: “Will you follow me up to the Car Wash so I can drop off my car to be detailed?”
Wife: “You really want to do this today? You know we’re having friends over for dinner. New friends. I could use some help getting ready.”
Husband: “It will only take 2 hours to detail the car. They can do it now.”
Wife: “Ok, I can go right now.” She adjusted her mental schedule. The cake she was baking – a new recipe – could hold for a half hour.
Back home 15 minutes later, she started making the orange puree, thinking it was odd to boil oranges with skins on and then puree the entire fruit. But that’s what the recipe called for.
2 Hours Later
Wife: “Wow, its pouring rain. I hope our new friends don’t run into trouble on the road.”
Husband: “They will be fine.”
Wife: Oh, the Car Wash called. Your car is ready. I have time right now to take you over there.”
A half hour later, she wondered what was keeping her husband. She called his cell.
Husband: “The ignition is broken. The key is jammed in the ignition. I called for a tow truck.”
An Hour and a Half Later
Husband: “Still waiting for the tow truck. They said another 20 minutes. Its pouring.”
Wife: “Look up. There’s a rainbow.”
Husband: “Thanks, I really need a rainbow today. I’ll call you when the tow truck gets here.”
One Hour Later
The flourless orange cake is in the oven. The chocolate molten cake batter is prepped and in the fridge. Husband is prepping lamb chops for the grill. Wife is prepping potatoes and asparagus to roast. Guests are due to arrive in a half hour.
Dinner is fun. New friends are delightful. Plans are made to get together again.
Husband, at the car rental store: “Just drop me off. The mechanic says the car should be ready Wednesday. It should cost about $500 to fix the ignition. I’ll rent a car until Thursday just in case.”
Friday Afternoon, about 4:00
Husband: “The mechanic says the car will be ready by 5:00. Will you please go pay the bill and pick up the keys?”
Wife, about 5:00: “I have the keys. I couldn’t lock the door. The key wouldn’t turn in the lock. Oh, it cost $1,200. They had to replace the ignition and battery. I don’t know what else they did.”
Friday Night, very late, after husband’s bi-weekly poker game
Husband: “One of the guys drove me to the car rental store and I dropped off the rental. Then he took me to pick up my car.”
Wife, sleepily: “I’m sorry I asked you to get your car detailed.”
We are in the process of drafting a letter to the Car Wash. We believe the technician who detailed the car turned the key too hard damaged the ignition. To make matter worse, one of the windows was rolled down and without the ignition turned on, we couldn’t roll it up again. And, it rained all week. All in all, a $200 car detail cleaning cost us about $1,600 including 5 days of car rental. We hope the Car Wash does the right thing and reimburses us. For now, the name of the Car Wish will remain anonymous.
Torrential rain. Rumbling thunder. Bouncing hail. Gale force winds that blow down trees. Flooding. It rarely snows here. We’re lucky.
Sitting on the couch while reading thick books, cozily wrapped in a blanket, sipping tea – or wine.
Stirring hearty soups and stews in a heavy pot on the stove. Baking bread; its rich, yeasty smell filling the house, making stomachs growl.
But spring is coming. Rainbows follow rain. Puffy white clouds drift overhead; the sky so blue it makes your heart sing. Then that sky turns dark and ominous again. Here comes more hail.
I feel spring rising. Energy and joy bubbling up. I wonder if trees feel the same when sap rises, when leaf buds grow, ready to unfurl. I like to think they do. I like to think plants are as happy as I am to see blue sky after a storm, to feel the warmth of the sun, the kiss of the breeze, as they lift their leaves. I see light almost glow through leaves while cells are busy transforming sunlight into energy.
The winter blooming Camellias are nearing the end of their season. Their creamy white blossoms look tattered. The Abutilon is blooming, drawing our resident hummingbird to its nectar-filled flowers. The Winter Daphne is in full bloom, waiting for the warmth of the sun to disburse the intoxicating aroma of its small pink flowers. The Wisteria buds are starting to swell. Soon they will look like fat caterpillars before bursting into purple, scented glory next month.
A few early finches flit through the bare branches of the Weeping Cherry tree outside my office window. In a couple months, its branches will be filled with pale pink blossoms.
I saw a lady bug the other day, clinging to a parsley leaf.
I feel spring rising.
One woolen mitten
It lost its mate
It lost the hand that it kept warm
But not dry
Wool doesn’t keep hands dry
The small fingers on one hand
Are pink and cold now
Wet from snow
The small boy doesn’t know
Where he lost his mitten
He was too busy forming balls of snow
And throwing them at his brother
Then they had a tussle
And rolled around in snow
The cold wet seeping into collars, soaking shoes and pant legs
Turning noses pink, ears, too
Somewhere in the wrestling match
A mitten went missing.
Now it is gone until spring.
Hot chocolate fixes cold hands
And lost mittens
And fights with brothers.
Don’t be mad
Because I lost my mitten.
I’ve always been awed by people who know what they want to do with their lives. A life long passion. A purpose. A drive.
I’ve always felt more like a leaf in a stream. Sometimes the stream flows slowly and I can take the time to explore what I see around me. To dream. Other times the stream runs swiftly, and I’m swirled into eddies, trying to stay afloat. No time for dreams.
Life offers so many possibilities. I can’t imagine choosing one or two. I don’t want to narrow my choices. I want to explore them all. I’ve never been strongly drawn to any one thing.
I followed wherever the path seemed to lead me during my career, and that worked out well. I was very lucky to be hired by a technology company that let me create my own role. I fought against being boxed in by traditional definitions of what a finance director should do, and that worked for a long time. Then it didn’t. And I’m glad. Because I am now free to pursue words and stories and music and art and gardens and cooking and whatever else catches my imagination.
I am happiest swirling down my own stream, pausing to explore when I want, and rushing towards a destination when I need. And words. Always words. There are stories to tell.
There’s a mouse in the house
And the cat is flummoxed.
He doesn’t know how to hunt
And the mouse keeps eating his lunch.
It also ate an orange
From the bowl I put on the table
I found it on the floor
Torn in two.
The orange, not the mouse.
Magnus just looks at me
He doesn’t know what to do.
I could flush the mouse out
And show Magnus where it is.
But that didn’t work when I tried it in the garden
The mouse just walked away. Bored.
Time for traps
Baited with peanut butter.
I hope that works
I don’t like to kill them
But they won’t stay away.
At this time of year, my imagination goes to Peer Gynt’s “Hall of the Mountain King”. It is the time for dark caves and ogres. Dark bridges and ogres. Dark, gothic music and ogres. And fearless fairies. And hope.
Pindi looked out from her perch on top of the fence in front of her family’s winter home. “Its rainy and windy. There are no flowers. Few leaves. But, the Camelias are blooming and the Abutilon has some flowers. The Daphne has buds. I hope the hummers can find food.”
“Come back inside,” called Mindi. It isn’t fit for fairies outside today. There’s a fire in the winter hall, and honey treats.”
“I’m worried about the hummers,” Pindi replied. “They shouldn’t be here in the winter. Giants feed them and that has changed their migration patterns. I hope they don’t starve.”
“They won’t. A bunch of them are in the winter hall now talking with Father.
Pindi flew back into the winter hall in the Passion Flower arch next to their summer home in the Green Japanese Maple Tree. The hall thrummed with the beating wings of the hummers as they told Bran, King of the Green Japanese Maple Tree their story.
And the ogres waited below.
“We are able to find some food” a hummer explained. “But there’s not much. And giants who fill feeders with sugar water have corrupted our young. They don’t know how to find real food.”
“You are welcome to stay here. What can we do to help?” King Bran asked.
“Besides the struggle to find food, we’re being attacked by ogres. They come boiling out of the ground and clamber up the branches of our food bushes and trees. They swing their long arms out and prevent us from feeding.”
“Let me think about this,” answered the King Bran. “There must be a solution. We should be able to negotiate a truce with the ogres. But the problem with giants is more difficult.”
Pindi was ready to burst. “Giants should plant hummer friendly gardens – not fill feeders with sugar water!” At the sound of her voice, her father turned and gave her his sternest look. “Pindi, you have interrupted a council meeting – again. How many times have I told you to stay quiet?”
“I can’t remember,” Pindi whispered. “But it’s true. I can talk with my giants about planting hummer friendly plants that will provide food. And, there are other giants nearby who would do the same. I just know it!”
“She may have a point,” Zoom, the lead hummer, replied. “In this neighborhood, there are very few sugar water dispensers, and the giants seem to care about us. Maybe Pindi can help start spreading the word. Giants are good about planting flowers that provide nectar in spring and summer. Winters are when we suffer the most.”
“Pindi has a point way too often,” muttered King Bran. “That doesn’t make it proper for her to interrupt adult conversations. Pindi, go to your chamber and reflect upon proper behavior for young fairies.”
Pindi bowed her head and flew off towards her chamber, tears of frustration spilling over her cheeks.
As the King talked with his council about how to approach the ogres, Pindi was planning. “There are lots of nectar-rich plants that bloom in winter,” she muttered to herself. “Mahonia, witch hazel, Viburnum, Daphne, Grevillea, Camelia, Abutilon, and more. My giants have some of these in their garden. I can ask them to tell their neighbors about them. Even if they don’t have gardens, they can plant hummer friendly food in pots.” She planned to talk with Zoom and her giants the very next day.
In the Fairy King’s Council Chamber
King Bran addressed his council. “I need to speak with Olf, the King of the Ogres. We must be able to come to an agreement to leave the hummers alone. What do the ogres want? Why are they attacking the hummers?”
“They hate everything that lives above ground, especially if they can fly. The live in the dark, with oozing mud and the smell of rot. They do not value life,” explained Angus, Bran’s War Chief. “I don’t know what we can offer to appease them.”
“Hmmm, you know, we and the others who live here try to keep them in their underground lairs. Perhaps we could offer them safe passage to do their foraging in exchange for not attacking hummers. Ogres need to eat, too. And they do a service to the roots of our trees and plants by keeping them clean of pests.”
“Angus, seek out Olf and ask him to join us for a summit to discuss the situation with the hummers a week from today.”
On a cold, wet day a week later, Olf climbed out of his lair and lumbered up the Green Japanese Maple Tree. He liked this drippy weather. It suited his mood.
“Bran, come out!” Olf bellowed. “I’m too big to fit into your hall. We can talk out in the open on a tree limb. Come alone.”
Pulling his cloak closer around his shoulders, Bran walked out onto the limb. “Good Day Olf.”
“Get to your point. I don’t have all day.”
“Olf, the hummers came to me asking for protection. Zoom told me your people have been harassing them, swatting them away from their food. There aren’t many nectar-rich flowers blooming right now and the hummers are hungry. My people can guard the hummers, but that isn’t a good solution. We need a truce.”
“My people can’t abide that constant vibration from the hummers’ wings, or their cheerful chirping. They should just go somewhere else to feed.”
“There aren’t very many giants who plant nectar-rich plants in their gardens. The giants who live here do, so this is where the hummers find their food.”
Bran and Olf kept arguing and negotiating, each careful not to anger the other. Bran tried to lead the conversation towards an agreement. Olf wanted access to the chicken yard but he didn’t want to give in too easily.
After several hours, Olf decided he was done circling around what he wanted. “We require unrestricted access to the chicken yard. We will leave your people and the hummers alone in exchange for that.”
Bran looked thoughtful and made Olf wait for a minute before he nodded his head. “We can do that.”
“Good, we’re done here.” Olf grunted and climbed awkwardly back down the tree.
Earlier that day, Pindi had snuck out of the tree on her mission to talk with her giants. She saw her father and Olf arguing on a branch and flew the other way. She was sure she could talk her giants into telling their friends which plants and bushes grew the most nectar-rich flowers for the hummers.
Pindi stopped short, nearly falling to the ground in excitement. “I know, I’ll ask Zoom to come with me. He is so charming; the giants will love him and be willing to help” She turned around and raced back to where she had last seen Zoom.
A few minutes later, Pindi and Zoom flew towards the giants’ back door. Pindi knew one of her giants would open the door soon. When her giants came outside, she and Zoom flew around to get their attention, then launched into their proposal. They talked over each other causing the giants to laugh.
“Slow down. We can’t understand you.”
With an exasperated sigh, Pindi forced herself to speak slowly. When she had made her case, she turned to Zoom, who chirped in agreement.
Her giants nodded and agreed to talk with their neighbors. And to plant more hummer friendly plants in their own garden.
The hummers were happy and well-fed. The ogres had access to the chicken yard. And Pindi was pleased with herself.