I look at the rainbow afternoon and smile. It makes me happy.
The sky has been dark and dramatic and then blue with puffy clouds all day.
It has hailed and rained and drizzled. And thundered.
Street gutters are flowing – or backing up where drains are stopped by leaves.
Trees are dripping. Tree rain. Trees gather the water and consolidate it into big drops. And drip them on those who walk beneath their canopies. Like squirrels throwing nuts on people’s heads. I don’t mind tree rain. I do mind squirrel weapons.
I am tired of gray skies. Today’s dark skies are an improvement over dead gray.
Gray weather makes me sleepy. Gray weather makes it hard to get motivated to move, to clean, to organize, to plan, to cook, to exercise. To write.
I write the same thing over and over.
The skies turn blue, plants rejoice after enjoying, or enduring, their soaking. Birds sing. I saw a hummingbird in the Crepe Myrtle. The magical world stirs.
The tomato seeds I planted have sprouted. I hope today’s hail didn’t flatten them. I don’t have the heart to look. The lettuce, peas, and beans will be fine. The cosmos are just poking their green heads out of the ground. My herb bed is celebrating.
My giddy chickens are laying eggs like crazy. They feel warm weather coming. They are tired of walking on wet hay. They want to take dirt baths while basking in the sun. Their sauna is muddy.
The fish look at me when I walk out the back door. They are starting to get hungry again. They don’t eat during winter. Yet, somehow, they grow. Each spring, when they emerge from their sleep-state they are bigger. I sit on my flat rock by the pond and sprinkle food in the water, watching the colorful swirl of koi. Big koi.
My husband will be home soon. My kids are well. My friends are well. I am happy.
Dozing, half-asleep-half-awake, knowing I could easily slip back into my dreams
15 pounds of cat lands on my stomach, his weight concentrated in 4 very sharp ends
“I’m hungry and my food bowl is empty”
I nudge my husband
“Honey, Magnus wants his breakfast. Will you feed him, please?
“What? Oh, ok.”
Dozing again, sliding back towards dreams
Give me 2 more hours, please
“I’m not afraid of you.” I stood tall in my paint splattered clothes facing the 8-foot ladder.
“Yes, you are, but I won’t hold it against you.”
I was talking with a ladder. An inanimate aluminum object.
That’s not surprising. Or unusual. I talk with inanimate things all the time. But they usually don’t answer back.
I was in the new ballet school space preparing to paint one of the studios. Our youngest daughter practically lived in the old ballet school space, coming home occasionally to eat and sleep. She cried when she found out the school was moving. It was such a big part of her life.
She’s moved on. The school is moving. Marc and I haven’t moved on. We still love what the school – and the associated ballet company – do. And we still volunteer our time to help them.
So, on a cloudy Tuesday – the last day of winter – I found myself talking with a ladder in an empty studio, a can on paint in my hand.
With a resolute sigh, I opened the can of paint and poured some into the roller pan. Loading the paint roller, I turned and attacked the closest wall. There’s something Zen-like to painting. Moving the roller up and down, diagonally each direction, dipping for new paint, rolling again. The walls look fresh, clean, new. I even like the smell of paint.
But I don’t like climbing up and down ladders. I painted all the wall space I could reach before I faced the ladder again.
“What are you worried about? I’m sturdy. I’ve never knocked anyone off my rungs. You’ll be fine.”
Assurances from a ladder.
“I don’t trust ladders. What if you move your rung just enough to trip me when I’m climbing up? Or what if I lean too far over and shift your balance? Then what?”
“Won’t happen. You will be extra careful climbing and leaning. And, you can hold on to me with your free hand while you paint if that makes you more comfortable. It will be like holding hands.”
“That’s just a bit creepy, but OK.”
We got through it, the ladder and I. We’re good buddies now. We hold hands.
The new space is beautiful. Full of light, new, clean, with good sized studios. The lobby has happy, sparkly chandeliers. There is lots of parking. I’m happy for the owner, who has become a friend. I can’t wait for my daughter to see it. And a whole new generation of dances who call it home.
Emmetsburg, Iowa, May 1928
Cecil groaned and straightened, her hand on her back where she ached the most. This pregnancy was hard on her, but her time was growing near. She and Clarence had been homesteading for 6 years. It was backbreaking work to grow crops in the hard, rocky soil. Building a house. Although, for Clarence, the building came easy. Their white clapboard house was solid and well-built.
Farming was harder. They grew corn and wheat for hay to feed the animals and trade with neighbors. Cecil had a vegetable garden Where she grew string beans, cucumbers, potatoes, and flowers. Cecil couldn’t resist her flowers.
Merle was nearly 5. He wasn’t sure he wanted a baby brother. He liked running and wrestling with his dog Sam and helping his mother with the planting and harvesting. Merle was fascinated with growing things. He loved to watch the tender green leaves sprout on the beans and the wheat waving in the breeze. Watching corn stalks grow taller than he was fascinating. He checked the growing ears daily.
Cecil looked at the sky. Nearly time to make supper, she thought. Best finish up with the weeding and corral the old hen who wasn’t laying anymore. It was her time in the stew pot. Cecil didn’t like to kill her hens, but she was pragmatic about it. Burning and pulling the pin feathers was a chore. But Clarence liked chicken. She’d serve mashed potatoes and some of the green beans Merle had just picked. Maybe a chocolate cake for dessert, if she had enough milk and butter.
Where is the Cecil who put on a bathing suit and frolicked in the lake with Christine? Where was the Cecil who hung from the trellis with a smile wearing her wedding dress and black boots? Gone in the face of necessity. But still in her imagination.
“Mama, mama look,” called Merle, showing off his pail full of freshly pick green beans.
“Nice” Cecil told him, breaking from her reverie of fond remembrances.
With a sigh, Cecil caught the biddy hen and with a snap, broke her neck. She looked up and saw Clarence walking from the barn with a pail of milk. I’ll have to separate the cream and churn the butter she thought. But they would have cake that evening.
I may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t want to think Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is about hallucinogenic drugs. I also don’t want Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” to have been inspired by a hallucinogenic drug experience when he wrote those wonderful, playful, and deep characters. I love that book because of the playful use of words. Reading it is a joyful romp through a rainbow of words. Cavorting off walls, tumbling on the floor, flying up towards the sky. I cherish them. But there’s a dark side, too. I know it is possible that he was experimenting with mind-expanding substances, but Why, Why do readers go straight to “he must have been stoned to write this book”?
I love E.B. White’s “The Once and Future King” for the same reasons. How fun to take a long-revered fable and turn it into a romp! While keeping its meaning.
I may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t think that Disney’s movie “Fantasia” is a drug induced frolic. I love that movie for the music and for the images and characters who move through it. Has anyone accused the composers or the animators of being on drugs? Probably.
Imagination does not have to be drug induced. That’s the opinion of those who sadly lack an imaginative brain. Not a problem for me. I don’t need hallucinogenic drugs to see magic, wonder, beauty, fun. My challenge is turning what I see into a coherent story.
I tried hallucinogenic mushrooms once (daughters, you didn’t read this). They did nothing for me. I felt like I was floating and couldn’t quite connect with my brain. Ideas and thoughts drifted through like clouds. Not a mind-expanding experience. I didn’t like it. I didn’t need it.
I envy people who think in a linear fashion. I worked with many of them for years. I have dear friends who are linear thinkers. I love them, but I don’t understand them. They don’t understand me.
My husband is a whiz at jumbles and anagrams. Not me. I look at the scrambled letters and see a word I can define and use. Not a real word. I try SO HARD to unscramble letters into their actual words but get frustrated and give up. Sudoku is more my style. I see patterns in the numbers. And, there are only 9 possible numbers, not 26 letters to unscramble. I’m not good at scrabble, or Words with Friends. I am good at Sudoku.
I just wanna write fun (with depth sneakily inserted). With apologies to Cyndi Lauper.
Our – recently retired – printer was at least 15 years old. The off/on button quit working months ago. In order to print, we had to disconnect the power cord, count to 20, and plug it back in. Then, listen for the printer to run its diagnostics and send the print command just before it finished – to print one file at a time.
The fact that I put up with this for months is an indication of my dread of buying a new printer and figuring out how to make it connect to our house Wi-Fi. Nothing is straightforward about this exercise. If there is a way to screw up simple instructions, I will find it. And do it.
But yesterday, with our annual appointment with our tax guy looming and the need to print tax forms, I gave up and drove myself to Best Buy. In the parking lot, I gave myself a stern talking-to, straightened my spine, took a deep breath, and walked through the door.
“HPs are the simplest to set up,” the barely-out-of-his-teens clerk assured me. I nodded my head sagely and pointed to one of the HP printers on display. “Ok, I’ll take that one.” Twenty minutes later I walked out with a brand-new machine that claims to print, copy, and scan – all wirelessly.
That printer knew I was afraid of the set-up process. It thwarted every action I took, every button I pushed. Paper was loaded. The blue Wi-Fi button was glowing. My computer said it was connected, but then asked for some random key that I didn’t have and couldn’t find. Our Wi-Fi password didn’t work. The product serial number didn’t work. Neither did the random numbers and characters I typed out of frustration.
Finally, the printer spit out a piece of paper with an email address where I could send a print command. I tried that and it worked, but I am simply not going to email my printer every time I want to print a document.
I went to bed and tried not to dream about recalcitrant printers.
This afternoon, I tried again. I checked the HP help website and ran the troubleshooting application, the same thing I had done last night. But today, the stars were aligned, and my computer started talking to the printer. And the printer talked back accepting my print commands. It was great. For a while.
Then, the paper got jammed. I took the printer nearly apart before finding the culprit. I tried to turn off the printer, but it got hung up in its shutting down process. I pulled the plug.
Some of us were meant to write things down on paper with a pen.
Note: I did eventually get the printer to print the tax forms I needed. I think we have come to terms. I’m not holding my breath for a long and successful relationship.
Pindi scowled at the weather from her perch on the fence just inside the overhang of the fairies’ winter home. “It’s never going to stop raining. How will the flowers bloom? How will the birds fly? I can’t fly in the rain. My wings get too wet.”
“The rain will stop. It does every year. You are just impatient. As usual.” Mindi replied with an exasperated sigh. Her sister was impulsive, and sometimes rash.
“Look!” There’s a rainbow!” Pindi pointed, shaking with excitement. “Let’s fly into the rainbow and watch the colors from inside.”
Mindi glanced back at the door to the winter home. “What if Mother catches us? She warned us not to go too far. What if it starts raining again?”
“It won’t.” Pindi stood, spread her wings, and flew off towards the rainbow.
“You just said it was never going to stop raining.” With another sigh, Mindi joined her.
“Oh, look at all the colors. See how our wings shimmer? “Pindi pointed towards the nearest tree. “That tree is blue and purple and red and orange, all at once. Everything I see is pulsing with color. It’s magic.” She twirled and watched the colors swirl with her.
Mindi tried a couple of somersaults in the rainbow and giggled. “This is fun!”
The fairy sisters were having so much fun playing in the rainbow, they didn’t notice he sky darkening or the ominous grey clouds moving in with the wind. The rainbow shimmered and slowly disappeared. “Fun’s over.” Pindi looked up at the sky and hoped she and her sister would make it home before the downpour promised by the clouds.
They didn’t make it home in time.
Pindi and Mindi flew to the nearest tree, a tall fir. Huddling together near the trunk, trying to stay dry, Pindi started to plan. “I won’t panic”, she told herself. “We will make it home before dark.”
“Caw, caw.” The crow that guarded the street in front of the giants’ home cocked his head and looked curiously at Pindi and Mindi. “What are you two little fairies doing in this tree?”
“Oh, Ka-a, I am so glad to see you!” Pindi exclaimed. “Will you take us home?”
“I don’t like to fly in the rain. Wait until it stops and then you can fly home yourselves.”
“Please? Please won’t you take us home? Our parents will be worried about us, and it doesn’t look like this rain will stop anytime soon.”
“I am on guard duty. I can’t leave my post.”
“Ka-a, we need to get home. If you fly us home, I will give you the shiny coin I found in the garden. It’s pretty. I know you like shiny things.” Pindi begged.
Ka-a considered, turning his head one way and then the other.
“Climb on,” he told the fairies. “Caw, caw, caw,” he called to let his fellow crows know he was leaving his post, then lifted off from the branch with the two fairies holding on tightly.
Ka-a winged across the street and swooped down to let the fairies disembark on the fence outside their winter home.
“Thank you, Ka-a, let me go get the shiny coin. I’ll be right back.” With that, Pindi rushed off to her chamber to look for the coin.
Sprinting back outside, Pindi reached out her hand and showed Ka-a the coin. Ka-a cocked his head. “Pretty. I’ll take it. Stay out of the rain.” And he flew off, back to his post with the coin in his beak.
Pindi and Mindi tried to sneak back into the great hall without being seen, but found their mother blocking their way, arms crossed, foot tapping. “Uh oh,” Pindi mumbled under her breath.
“Where have you two been? I told you not to wander off. Why are you so wet?” demanded their mother, Queen Caelia.
Pindi swallowed, fidgeting nervously. She raised her head and met her mother’s stern gaze. “We saw the rainbow and wanted to play in it. It was my idea. Then it started to rain again, and we flew to the big fir tree to stay dry. Ka-a brought us home. I gave him my shiny coin to thank him.”
“Pindi, why is it always your idea?” Mindi, why do you go along with your sister’s schemes?” Queen Caelia was glad her children were home and safe, but angry they didn’t follow her order to stay close. Angry, but not surprised, knowing Pindi.
“I will speak with your father and we will decide on an appropriate punishment for not obeying my orders.” With that Queen Caelia turned on her heal and strode away.
“I wonder what our punishment will be this time,” Pindi whispered.
“We’re probably grounded and will be given more chores,” Mindi grumbled.
Pindi’s eyes shone. “It was fun playing in the rainbow.”
“Yeah, but we should have asked first, Mindi chided.
Pindi rolled her eyes. The fairy sisters slowly walked into the great hall to find out their punishment.
I love boots
Boots with heels
Boots with wedges
Boots with kitten heals
Boots that are flat
I love them all
Pindi loves boots, too
She envies mine
She has fairy size boots
With attitude that matches hers
Pindi’s boots are fierce
We normally fly to Washington and back. This time we drove. Two long days in the car each way. Rain, fog, wind, sun, clouds. Snow on the ground, thankfully not falling on our heads. Trees on the ground, getting in the way of the cars. Mud and rocks on the road, getting in the way of cars. Highway 101 fissuring and falling more than 20 feet, stopping traffic both ways. A 10-mile-long detour on a very narrow, winding road with no shoulder next to the cliffs. A road not meant for this much traffic. Car full of our record albums from the 1970s and 1980s to give to our son in law. I don’t know why I kept them this long.
On the way home, car full of the cradle my father made for my first born. Four grandchildren and one great grandchild have slept there. Each of their names and birthdates have been lovingly and carefully carved in the sides. I need to learn to carve before the next one is born. I am sure I have time.
This time, we didn’t bring snow or hail. We brought sunshine. Washington and Oregon have had enough snow. California has had enough rain.
We had a reunion of sorts to say goodbye to my father. Cousins on my side of the family who have never met my kids or my sister’s kids. Dad’s sons in law from his second marriage. It was a happy lunch. We drank Dad’s favorite beer, Mac and Jack. Cheers, Dad.
We attended our grandson’s 6th birthday party. Happy birthday Calvin. He’s a kick. We love him and he loves us. My heart swells.
I am a very lucky woman. I enjoy spending time with my in-laws. All of them. We stopped at Marc’s parent’s house on the way up and on the way back. Two delicious dinners. Wine. Conversation. Laughs. Tenderness.
Home again. Bliss. Thankful to be out of the car. Four loads of laundry. Our incredible house sitter left us food. Thank you! Magnus has been telling me all about his week with the house sitter. He didn’t make friends with her. His loss. He is happy to be outside having adventures that he will tell me about so I can write them down. I am a cat’s scribe.