Day Ten (last day!) Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
What was beautiful today?
Today started by me getting out of bed in the morning and will end with me going to bed tonight. This feels so decadent, indulgent and wonderfully ordinary. I work a 10 hour midnight shift 3 times a week usually so to wake up in the morning after a night of sleep and to go to bed when it’s dark pleases me no end. And isn’t something I take for granted. I also love the feeling of working midnights where time is expansive and fluid. Working midnights reminds me that there are 24 hours to every day and each one holds its own uniqueness. And there is a certainly a deliciousness to crawling into bed at a time when many people are facing their work day. But ultimately, it’s the normalcy of days like today that soothe me (even if it’s 2 a.m. when I actually climb into bed, it’s still night). Night sounds of crickets and distant trains rumbling comfort me and remind me that tonight someone else, not me, will be on watch. Because we’re 13 hours apart, my friend Fran in Tasmania and I will sometimes exchange messages as the other is heading to bed: “Sweet dreams. I’ll hold the fort for you. All is well.”
I loved my haiku today (I had actually written it last night in response to an incident yesterday) and I felt it matched my photo well, taking a more literal meaning if paired with the photo. I liked the duality. I love it when my haiku can stand separate from my photo but also matches the photo. When I did my usual 3 card Tarot card spread (with the deck I feel is my forever deck, Tarot of Mystical Moments created by Catrin Welz-Stein—I just love everything about this deck, from the intriguing illustrations which speak to me beyond words to their silver gilt edges) I got strong positive cards—the first 2 at least! The 9 of cups, the wish card, to my way of thinking and the Queen of Pentacles and the 7 of cups. A good reading always starts the day off right!
I made my favourite breakfast of French toast with cinnamon with fresh peaches and blackberries instead of frozen this morning. A delicious treat. And I packed a lunch of 3 jalapeno cheese sticks (hoping that I liked them!) and a banana for lunch in a park with my dear friend, Jo-Anne.
I had a somewhat disturbing insight in an exchange with a Moonshine friend this morning but even what seems like a negative realisation can be beautiful if it leads to illumination so I include it here. My friend had posted lots of her art on facebook and I commented on it saying how lovely to see her art and her journey and she responded saying it was the first time she had posted her work on facebook, usually it was instagram where, for whatever reason, she felt ‘safer’. I replied that I felt the same, more exposed on facebook, and I pondered why. After all, facebook was full of ‘friends’, people I’d actively chosen to see my page whereas instagram was full of strangers who followed me (along with some friends). I put my dishes in the sink and thought some more. Then I realised what it was. When I post on instagram, 30 people could view my post and not comment or ‘like’ and I’d be fine with it but if 30 of my facebook friends saw my post and didn’t comment or ‘like’, it would feel more like rejection. Ouch. I realise this can spiral and some days this wouldn’t bother me, other days it would. But it explained why I only post my daily haiku on instagram everyday and only my favourites on facebook. I don’t like the feeling of being so influenced by other people’s responses but the insight was invaluable and I had dug deeper so basically I’ll take it as a win. If I understand then I can work to change or at least acknowledge when a day may or may not be a good one to post on facebook.
Driving to meet Jo-Anne on a beautiful sunny but cooler day, I noticed a hedge of flowering sunflowers, all nodding their heads inward as if sharing secrets. One fence had gladiolus tips peeking over the top like nosy neighbours. And we discovered wild sunflowers at the bottom of a flight of wooden steps. We ate at a picnic table in a park grandstand but moved when a black spider fell into my friend’s lunch! Then we sat and chatted and laughed and commiserated on a bench in the shade facing an ornate but dry fountain. We watched a fuzzy yellow caterpillar safely inch its way through the grass to a flower bed. When we reached my friend’s house, she made earl grey tea for me in a grey china tea cup with a solid yellow inside and a swirling gold pattern around the edge. We carried it outside to her deck and sat under the red umbrella with the lake breeze blowing through our hair. The puffy cushion she gave me for behind my back fitted perfectly and was comfortable.
Somehow we got chatting about songs and Jo-Anne shared her favourite songs that she thought I may not be as familiar with. Songs and music create and touch on memories like nothing else in my world. I often feel that a way to gain an insight into someone is to look at their favourite songs and movies. Jo-Anne’s list surprised me in how many of her choices were real heartbreaking, sad sad songs, often bluesy, that burrowed through to my bone. But what a pleasure to share that and she’d play the songs on Spotify on her phone and if I particularly liked any I’d write them down to fit into one of my many many playlists (all mood oriented). As I’ve written this, I have listened to Solomon Burke sing 'Cry to me’ repeatedly. The timbre of his voice makes me shimmy in my seat, the way he sings certain words just speaks to my soul, to a primal part of me that doesn’t emerge very often. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of listening to it!
That song will forever remind me of today, sitting at Jo-Anne’s glass table under the red umbrella drinking earl grey tea sharing music with the lake breeze blowing our hair across our faces. A delightful late summer’s day with a treasured friend.
Day 243 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
Rain and wind battered
scorched by heat, mired in mud
re-hang the sunshine
Day Nine Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
What do you know?
What is your particular brand of magic and genius?
Trigger warning: mentions of death and after life
In response to my last post Renee wrote: 'I also know that we know what we know even if there is no explanation for it.' Empowering words. Then the prompt for the next day’s musings was ‘What do you know?’ Lol. I didn’t have time that day (or the following ones!) to do more than take phone notes so this is a mishmash of the last few days but in the same way it’s also timeless.
Lately, because of Autumne and the dragonfly, the emphasis has been on visitations (let’s call them that. I never considered that as the word to call them but it does nicely. Thank you, Renee and others who called them that.) They always surprise me. A psychic jolt. Always unexpected and often not people I’d expect to hear from. So that particular brand of magic is front and foremost all the way through these musings. The first one I noticed enough to remember was in 2008 (I just checked a poem I’d written at that time to get the year). One of our clients, Fred, died tragically and accidentally at work. He was mid- to late-twenties. I can’t remember exactly how old he was except far far too young. A bunch of co-workers and myself went to his funeral. But due to a devastating mismanagement of communication and an innate need to blame someone, we were blamed at the funeral if not directly for Fred’s death then for the tardiness in letting his family know. Fred was indigenous and his family lived in a northern fly-in community and they found out about his death from a band member long before our company management reached them. Management’s delay was inexcusable and cast shadows of suspicion but the hurt at the funeral (not from Fred’s immediate family) deflected from the focus on Fred and his life. He had been someone I loved working with, tremendously shy but funny, sensitive and observant. Driving home with another co-worker, in my mind I worried about Fred especially with all the circumstances surrounding his death and family upset. Was he okay? The minute I thought that, a huge crow was buffeted by the wind almost swooping into the windscreen of the car ahead. I gasped and followed the crow’s flight to make sure it was okay. A band of white spanned each wing as it flew up into a birch and nestled there looking down at us. The most amazing sense of calm and peace washed over me. Fred had given me his answer. I shared this with my co-workers, especially the one who had been working when Fred died and who had tried to revive him. Not only did they believe me but it seemed to bring a snippet of healing to everyone. So in a way perhaps that is the magic of my knowing, of reassuring or somehow comforting others as well as myself.
When I was about 7 or 8, a favourite ‘aunt’ died. Aunt Mary. She was my Nanna’s best friend, not a blood relation but I saw her fairly often and liked her. She was very traditionally religious and gave me many biblical books. Mam didn’t always agree with Aunt Mary’s forcefulness and degree of devotion but I was always allowed to investigate any religion or belief that interested me. And because of the push in junior school re Christianity and because I loved hymns and because I knew in my soul of souls that there was something somewhere, I called it God. When Aunt Mary died, I felt sad and I needed to know that she was safe in ‘heaven’ so I demanded her to do certain tricks to prove to me that she was in heaven. “Push this ball down the stairs.” “Make the curtain move.” I was a very bossy child! But nothing happened, ever. My faith was shaken and whereas I knew there was something, I just knew, I no longer believed in God and heaven specifically. Today I call that something Spirit.
It has only been quite recently that I have linked this memory to the visitations.
Sometimes I feel like I only have a baby toehold in this world. For as long as I can remember I’ve been able to sense ghosts/spirits (even though it often terrified me!) and remember when I was 12 or so reading a book at a table in the library about encounters with ghosts. My skin prickled as the sensations listed in the book validated what I had felt and experienced over and over again. In a similar way I can be randomly psychic, knowing for sure when a thing will work out or when I’ll win something.
I know that Scotland lives in my bones, as does the wild of the North Yorkshire moors and oh! heather. I know that I’m nervous about visiting the east coast of Canada in case I never return because it has totally bewitched me even though it so often beckons. (I also know the winter weather there would beat me down…those ice storms!)
I know I can tell stories and have been able to for forever it feels like. Writing, in particular, is my biggest and strongest connection to others. I also can generally recognise connections with people, sometimes even foretelling who will be important in my life, and can maintain that connection, at least in my part, even if I don’t correspond regularly with that person. I don’t need ‘regular’ touchstones to feel close to someone and can pick up a friendship even decades later as if there’d been no break timewise. I don’t have to physically meet someone to establish a deep and meaningful relationship with them. It is simply enough to know that they are there in this world.
I consider writing and mixed media painting as my passions. If something truly interests me, I have to find out as much as I can about it. I remember Dad saying how he envied this trait in Mam and myself. If I’m truly interested in something I can discuss it endlessly (can you tell? Lol) and often catch onto things and understand them quickly but only if I’m interested! When I was pregnant my doctor used to ask me (not sarcastically but in a truly interested way) what I’d learned since our last visit. She was always open to what I’d share. That’s a sweet memory. I loved that doctor.
Irony and nudges from the universe fascinate me and I’m forever seeing and seeking associations between things to form reassuring webs.
I know that I often appear invisible to others, especially if I don’t want to be noticed, yet I hold their stories.
I know I can converse with and usually understand all my pets to a certain degree. Sometimes other animals and others’ pets too.
People have said that I’m kind and responsive, especially when others are struggling or in grief. I’m learning to know and trust that I can rely and act on my impulse/instincts in these situations and they generally bring at least momentary comfort. I used to hold myself back and still prefer to be as anonymous as possible.
I know how to hear the unsaid things.
Day 242 #365daysossybwriting #365daysofhaiku
Full night’s sleep at last!
Joy and love slip into dreams
belly and heart full
Thank you for reading. What do YOU know? Instinctively, deep in your marrow? Celebrate YOU!
Day Eight Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
What do you want more/less of?
What can you let go of?
I want more dragonfly moments but even to write that feels greedy. What I’ve had is magical. I’ve decided to call them that now—dragonfly moments—because of the magical sound to it. And because of the dragonfly my friend Autumne sent recently (two days after she died) to say thank you and to let me know she was okay. I’ve made myself vulnerable several times telling people about them and I know not everyone gets it. I try to listen to my gut as to who might be receptive and I question why would I need/ why do I want to tell them? I know it’s such an honour that it so often happens to me after someone has died. I am acutely aware that many people may crave that connection (and perhaps ‘deserve’ it more ie they’re much closer to the person who died) yet never receive it so I don’t want to isolate or hurt anyone by recounting my experiences. Often it draws out a conversation, almost an admission, that others have had similar experiences. So it becomes validating for us both.
One of my poems for my poetry group this month was called ‘Notice’ and was about this dragonfly moment. I emailed it to our group on Tuesday. Yesterday morning one of our members, Mary, emailed me back saying that one of her cousins had died in Ireland a couple of days ago and that Mary appreciated the poem, that it helped her adding ‘no dragonflies (yet)’. I replied suggesting she be on the lookout for ‘things’…feathers, butterflies, dragonflies and I recounted my experience with one friend who sent a hawk complete with prey in its talons. It smacked up against my living room window and I raced to the door to see that it was okay. It was. Then it flew up onto the birdbath, fluffy white prey still in its talons, gathered itself and flew a few feet away to the tangle of lilac branches and began to devour the prey. I felt that familiar twinge in the pit of my stomach and I knew. ‘Lynn’. This was my friend Lynn all over. Dramatic and in my face. I smiled. It was so her. Lynn was actually my dear friend Bethe’s mom but Lynn was one of my biggest fans re writing and we had a good relationship over time. I messaged Bethe and told her that I thought her mom had just sent me a hawk. Bethe immediately messaged back. “Yep. That sounds like her!” As I was messaging with Bethe, the hawk left. I knew this because it smacked into my window again (again totally fine, no recovery time needed this time) before flying away. I had to laugh: Lynn always bigger than life.
Anyway, I didn’t tell Mary all that in my email (I get so excited recounting these visits that I got carried away. Sorry!) but just suggested that she may get a nudge from a different creature. Yesterday evening I got another email from her which said that she thought my poem had been her dragonfly as she had carried it around with her all day as it had actually been her cousin’s funeral yesterday. Mary said my poem couldn’t have come on a better day and couldn’t have been more significant. I’m so glad I didn’t hesitate in sending it.
Today I had a delicious take out lunch at a picnic table in the Marina with my lovely friend, Lisa. (I realise I want more walks by water and meet ups with friends outside) We hadn’t seen each other since last year so had lots to catch up on. Lisa is a sweetheart who totally takes me as I am. One time we were going to lunch but a counselling session the day before suddenly seemed to hit me hard and when she came to get in my car I was heaving with sobs. But no matter, we had lunch together and both of us ended up crying over missing our moms. (I want more in town friends who let me be me and who get me) Anyway, after lunch Lisa and I sat on a bench facing Lake Superior, a soft breeze blowing our hair, and I told her about Autumne. I was setting the scene with the dragonfly for her:
“Dad was sitting beside me.” I pointed to my right.
“And Sandy was sitting across the table.” I flapped my hand in front of me.
“I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach to notice what was about to happen. And out of the corner of my eye I could see a small dragonfly hovering over there.” I pointed to ‘over there’ and as I did, a beautiful big dragonfly flew in exactly the space I was pointing to and hovered. We both laughed. Then it flew away as I continued with my story. I remembered that others had mentioned Autumne’s terrific sense of humour. I really didn’t know Autumne that well but I call her my friend (and she called me her friend too) because we just had a connection. I have no idea who was messing with Lisa and I today but it was so funny. And I realised that my dragonfly moments could also refer to laughter. I need oh so much more laughter in my world. When I got home after our lovely visit, that moment lingered with me, making me smile. And I still laugh, even writing this.
Yes, much more laughter.
Whoa! As I was just finishing this up, my computer crashed. Okay, I’ll have much less of that! Even if I didn’t lose anything, that does not classify as funny. Just putting that out there!
Day 237 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
Fine china, silver
she brings to the picnic
her friendship priceless
*my list is so much longer of wanting more and wanting less but this is where my writings took me today so I take that as the main musing.
Day Seven Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
Pay attention to “Can I say that?”
My first “Can I say that?” moment came minutes after I read Renee’s prompt this morning. One of my writer friends had emailed her poems to be critiqued for our poetry group’s upcoming meeting and in it she mentioned her mother’s celebration of life coming up on Saturday. ‘Maybe some day I will share the poem I wrote for the event’ she wrote. My heart went out to her and I immediately wrote her back then I paused at the end of the email. I felt nothing but love for her. But do I sign ‘love’ or not? Ugh. This drives me nuts. I am a love and kisses kind of gal (I am more reserved with men and of course with business stuff). But I know I can come across as overbearingly gushy and mushy. Or I imagine I can. Perhaps inappropriately so. I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. But it’s hard to rein that in for me. A triple Pisces, my emotions spill out all over the place. Reining in what’s natural and debating over it like this can take up so much energy! A ridiculous amount. I could have taken a bit of a cop out by inserting a heart emoji (always another dilemma for me!) but in the end, fired by Renee’s prompt, I wrote ‘Love, Sue’ at the end of the email. She didn’t write ‘love’ back but her return email brimmed over with appreciation for my concern and love. Writing love although not a usual way of us responding to each other felt right for me this morning and I felt glad that I'd written it.
Today I was meeting an old friend for a take out lunch at a park. She is scheduled for a second biopsy on Thursday. As I was eating breakfast, I noticed the two beautiful miniature rose bushes that Rob had brought home the other day. The last few days I’ve been given the roses, house plants, outdoor violets and two pots of mums from various people. My friend would love the rose. But could I give her that, a gift meant for me, a re-gift in a way? Did it seem cheap? All ready to leave to pick up our lunch, I paused with my key in the lock. I hadn’t picked up the rose. I stood on my front step, remembering today’s prompt, thinking “Can I say that?” Words are not the only way to say things. I figured she would understand and I went back inside and brought the rose. Before she even knew what it was, I told her the whole story: Renee’s prompts, Rob’s gift meant for me, pausing at the door. She smiled and shook her head. I enjoyed teasing her with not knowing what it was but when I gave it to her, she had tears in her eyes. And later she sent me a photo of where she’d put it in her apartment. So pleased with it. Again, my emails to her ended with ‘Love, Sue’ and she didn’t end hers with love, but again I could feel her affection and love in every word she wrote and in the thoughtfulness of her photo.
Sometimes I feel vulnerable writing ‘love’ especially if it doesn’t seem reciprocated. It feels minuscule to even write that. Boundaries of course. I do my best to observe the boundaries of others and to establish my own but my energy feels so much freer, less sticky and thwarted, if I succumb to the love or hearts or kisses if that is my first impulse.
My son Dane and I are very affectionate this way; I love you is a constant end to a text, message or phone call. When we’re together, spontaneous hugs are the norm. Once when I was visiting him I explained how when I was growing up I don’t remember our family being very demonstrative. The first time I remember seeing my parents touch other than dancing was when I was easily 8 or 9 years old, maybe even older, and we were racing across a busy road and Dad grabbed my hand and Mam’s hand and we all ran across together. As soon as we reached the other side of the road, he dropped our hands. Yet, I had stumbled in on them being lovey-dovey towards each other one day. So it was there, just hidden. And ‘I love you’s were never heard although Mam and my Nanna who lived with us (Mam’s Mam) were warm and loving. On hearing all this Dane said, “Oh we weren’t like that at all.” “Exactly,” I replied. “I made sure we weren’t.” Today Dane is one of the most openly demonstrative, warm, loving people I know. It makes me proud that he can be like that, that he can ‘say’ all that so easily.
The prompt today reminded me to do something I’d been meaning to do for a while. Rob has had these medical issues lately and whereas I tell everyone in case I/we need support (and because I’m needing support through it as it stands), Rob doesn’t believe in big fusses or worrying people unnecessarily and he hasn’t mentioned any of it to his family. A few days ago he told me that he’d gotten a message from one of his daughters, Nessa, saying that she was checking in on him because she’d had a weird dream that involved his health and getting lots of voice messages on the phone. Rob had reassured her that everything was all right but didn’t validate her intuition. To him that would have involved a more complex conversation and concern and fuss. But I told him that I felt compelled to tell Nessa that her intuition was bang on (I had awakened to a few phone messages last week after Rob had gone to emergency). He shrugged, not really understanding and I wrestled with my thoughts for days, not wanting to alarm Nessa, staying true to Rob’s wishes yet validating her intuition which I feel is incredibly important. Today I asked myself, “Can I say that?” Finally I did in a way that although puzzling to her in its vagueness wasn’t alarmist or betraying to Rob’s wishes. Intuition and finding connections like that are a big source of light in my days and I feel they can be in the lives of others too.
So my love language is words. But Rob’s is acts. (I can’t remember the exact name of the categories) I remember expressing to him years and years ago how I didn’t feel his love. I hurt him. He looked shocked. “How can you say that? I do all these things for you…” And he reamed off a huge list of things and I found myself adding more. “But you don’t tell me much,” I lamented. “I show you,” he replied. And when I found that test that tells you your love language and we did it, sure enough mine was verbal/written expressions of love (and oh boy am I a sucker for them!) and his was demonstrating love by actions. It helps so much to realise that.
My first husband won me over by leaving fat letters under the wipers of my VW Bug. Letters he wrote to me during his down time at work, poems he penned just for me. Despite friends (mutual friends even) warning me away from him, despite me knowing troubling stuff he’d done and said, his words won me over. In his very first letter he wrote one of the most touching and heartfelt poems I think I’ve ever read. He ended the poem saying not all the words in the poem were his (some were an echo of the song ‘Words’ by the Bee Gees) but he was sincere: words were all he had to give. Were they enough?
What could I say? Apparently they were. At least for that time. A memory with no regret.
And today, through love written and said and shown, I feel I’ve expressed what needed to be expressed without regret through my day. Perhaps I’m learning.
Day 236 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
I brought two muffins
but leave with plants, books and food
arms and heart filled full
*Warning: long and rambly. Thank you in advance for attempting to read.
Day Six of Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
What did you forget that you need to remember?
This morning I woke up clinging to a memory. No idea of my dreams but I knew the memory had emerged from my feelings of being on the inside looking out yesterday afternoon, of feeling excluded even if by choice. While neighbours chatted in the street, I hid myself away behind all the trees in my back yard with a word puzzle book, one of my favourite summer things to do, the thing that gets me out into the fresh air and keeps me there when I’m low on energy. I didn’t want to be visible out on the street. I didn’t want the neighbours to include me in small talk but I envied their ease in doing so as I heard them and peeked out through the front screen door.
Guess I took that image to bed with me because the memory I woke up with was from a summer holiday in 1972 when I was 11. Mam and Dad and I were staying in a farmhouse bed and breakfast in Wales. We shared breakfast and dinner/supper with the other people holidaying there at the same time. One family consisted of two parents and a girl, a few years older than me and the dishiest boy I had ever seen. Shiny black hair, long eyelashes and deep brown eyes. Adrian. Even his name made me swoon. Adrian, I discovered, was a year older than me. We shared shy secret smiles that made my stomach flip and sometimes we’d wink at each other. Even as I dreamed about him during the day, my stomach still flipped. Oh that feeling!
Sue, his sister, was super friendly but I’m not sure if Adrian and I even talked much. He wore a Tilly-like hat and filled it with badges of everywhere he went. I begged my parents to buy me a similar hat and badges of every town we visited so we had our hats in common and compared badges. One evening, halfway through our week’s stay there, I noticed Sue and Adrian playing in the garden. I sat on a window seat, a floor above them and watched, loving their laughter but when Sue glanced up at our window, I ducked behind a curtain. I knew they had seen me though as their game became silly and they’d ham it up then look up to see if I’d noticed. Sue beckoned and yelled at me to join them but I always shook my head. My parents encouraged me to play with them but I stayed stuck in the room behind the window, watching and laughing along with them night after night. Always too shy and awkward to go into the garden to play. Until our final night there and I did go into the garden. They included me immediately and Sue got permission for us all to go on a walk around the fields and hills behind the farmhouse. We shared secrets and fears and our lives, the three of us as we wandered around. Sue got Adrian to stand guard for us girls as we went pee a few trees apart and Sue instructed me on how to squat so my knickers didn’t get wet. We exchanged addresses and promises to write and keep in touch.
On the long drive home the radio broke my heart time and time again by playing “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by The Partridge Family. And I wondered why I had waited so long to meet them in the garden.
Looking back, I think more evenings with them might have dissolved my crush on Adrian and I loved that stomach flip feeling too much to lose it. We did share letters when we all got home but Adrian mentioned something about a toy box which turned me right off him although I still chose to remember our shy secret smiles and winks.
But perhaps the time of year and that feeling of being inside and looking out, feeling excluded even by my own choice, made me remember Sue and Adrian this morning, even before I read Renee’s prompts.
After reading Renee’s prompts, another memory surfaced: of a solitary Sunday walk through the streets of my town when I was about 13. I loved walking through the cemetery with its old sandstone walls and tall twisty-trunked trees and eroding gravestones (we had no yard) but I also walked around the streets. This one day a boy walking with an Alsation/German Shepherd somehow caught up with me. He was funny, a year older than me, and we walked for hours around parks and streets and across a bridge over a road which made his dog slink lower and lower until we got safely across. The boy's name was Dave and we talked easily and laughed and laughed. We held hands and kissed and the world swam and swayed. He went to my school and he asked me out. But I told him no; my dad would kill me for walking around with a boy I didn’t know (Dad, especially was super strict—I realise writing this now it may not appear that he was but my curfews were ridiculous and he really was very strict!). But Dave still went right out of his way to walk me safely home although I wouldn’t let him walk me to the door even when he offered to talk to Dad. Dave and I looked out for each other at school and smiled and said hi but over time the magic disappeared…as I write this I remember purposely passing his house a few times with my friends, thinking maybe I became a little obsessed with what I missed. Despite all that, I have this memory that resurfaced today, this nudge of connection.
If I look back without regret the memories sparkle more. Oh! An aha moment. They feel more free. I can accept them easier without cobwebby feelings, the emotion I felt in the actual kernel of the memory is crystal clear. Interesting. I even sat straighter as I wrote that.
A memory surfaced too of a moment with Harv, devoid of all that happened after and all that came before, separate from the terrible decision I had to make. Of one night when the woman across the street who everyone was scared of but who had taken a shine to me and my son gave us some freshly caught white fish. And Harv and I, who had no money, fried that fish in a cast iron pan and feasted and all that existed was sharing the delicious fried fish with each other that one moment in time. Nothing else in the world mattered.
I sometimes forget that moment, that feeling, but the immediacy of it is important. Again, holding it up and shaking all the regrets of the 5 ½ year relationship off it, make the moment prominent and make it sparkle. If time cannot be wasted, that moment reminds me to treasure the simplicities, that even when things look scary and worry threatens to overwhelm, we can still savour the now, this precise moment. What is right in this moment? What do we have right now in front of us? The feeling of having nothing and then unexpectedly having a delicious meal reminds me that I can be strong, that somehow things can work out, that I can revel in the moment and not always be worrying about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Music, emotions and smells are terrific for me for dredging up memories. When I hear “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” I’m 11 again with my face pressed up against the back window of our car dreaming about Adrian.
As I reach the end of my day and I ponder my ‘wasted’ time of being outside doing word puzzles that no one else cares about, I remember the first summer after I graduated from university. I had forgotten that. I actually wanted to read again. I had missed reading for fun during all the college and university days so this summer when all the forced book learning was behind me, I decided to get a slew of books from the library, mainly biographies, and sit in the shade in the backyard and read. Just for fun. Just because I could. Just because nothing else was pressing except the warmth and laziness of a summer afternoon. And I realise now, that in sitting outside doing word puzzles while the rest of the world passes by, I’m honouring that freedom: having choices. No regret and no such thing as wasted time.
Day 235 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
Favourite tea towel
stained red by onion skins
Image description: a cotton tea towel with a printed picture and quote on it. The picture is of a stack of two books, one red and one green with a tea cup full of brown liquid on top. Coming from the cup is a cloud of a red stain which looks exactly like it's coming from the cup. This was accidental but it is what inspired today's haiku. It looks magical. Make a wish!Oh and the quote on the tea towel is from C.S. Lewis and it says: You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
Day Five: One moment at a time
Wild Musings with Renne Magnusson
6:15a.m. I do a double take at the end of my 10 hour midnight shift as a psw to people with mental or physical challenges. Shelly’s mermaid hair is braided down her sweaty bare back as I help her into the shower but one long strand has fallen loose and coiled into a loopy heart. I describe it to Shelley and we talk about how now she’s going into the shower and it’ll be lost without anyone else ever seeing it.
“But I did,” I told her. “And I told you so now you know and you can carry that in your heart all day and share it with whoever you want. Or no one at all. But you know it existed.”
7:10a.m. I drive pass a park blanketed with fog. That’s a cliché but really is the best way to describe it. I feel thankful for the moisture it’ll provide.
7:15a.m.ish I check on my Dad and step-mom’s house on my way home to pick up the mail and drop off a new book from a friend and local author while they are out of town. Scraps of mist hide in shady garden pockets. Sandy has highlighted things in silver: a ceramic bird’s beak and tail, birds on an iron sculpture and the top of a lantern hanging from a lilac tree. Silver highlights shimmer in the red sunrise. I pick up a book Dad has left for me. It fits comfortably in my hands, its spine well-creased, its pages soft, almost to the point of furring.
8:00a.m. onwards I chat with my hubby, Rob, who is just waking up on the couch where he always sleeps. He had been to emergency last night for an ever-expanding sore on his shin. He’d waited for 2 weeks for an ‘urgent’ biopsy through the doctor but was told the wait list is taking a month so the doctor recommended he go to emergency. He spent hours at emergency and fills me in on what happened. Bottom line: he had a biopsy and he has medicinal honey slathered on his shin and wrist, wrapped in a bright white netted bandage, startlingly white against his dark Asian skin. He shows me with his thumb and forefinger how much medicinal honey the nurse put on. Twice. “It must be expensive stuff,” he says. He tells me he stopped to pick up eggs and humus. I perk up at humus. He is the grocery shopper and we haven’t had humus in forever. In the kitchen I search for it. He picks up a pumice stone. “See?”
“I thought you said humus. That’s disappointing. I was excited for humus.”
“Pumice. Exciting for our feet.”
He says it Canadian: poomis. My British accent says it pewmis but my humus is hoomus just like Rob’s. I laugh at the mistake, at our talking cross-purposes, and spend the rest of the time before I go to sleep saying humus and pewmis and poomis to myself. And I feel comforted by medicinal honey which sounds earthy and natural and not at all what I expected from the hospital and I imagine it sloughing off all the crusty bits of his sore as he works at his dusty desk in the accounting office. A shin full of medicinal honey. Not the worst way to begin a day.
10:15a.m. I revel in the lightness of the purple sheet over me as I set the alarm for 12:45a.m. and feel the wafts of already warm air from the fan. Trains and planes and neighbourhood chainsaws have already started so I put in my earplugs.
1:15p.m. I wake up and pee, realise I’ve slept through the alarm and even if I could wake up now I’ll have missed most of the live full moon ceremony for Moonshine 2021 cos my computer takes longer to wake up than I do. I slide back under the sheet, careful not to nudge my tortie cat off the bed. I’ll have to catch Effy’s replay. She’s terrific like that.
4:30p.m. I’m angry. Two minutes later! It feels like just two minutes since I snuggled into the pillow. But no, three hours. A good sleep then. Never long enough when I work midnights but then that’s my fault. I fight it, pushing myself beyond feeling sleepy to feeling like I will never need sleep again as long as I live. Phone messages about a specialist appointment for Rob on Monday. The woman’s voice, the timbre, has the kindness of everyone’s favourite grandma and she (her name is Diane) speaks my name as though we’ve been friends forever. I feel, again, comforted by the direction of this unexpected journey.
Day 232 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
hangs between lilac branches
misty morning guide
Day Four: Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
What gives light to the dark places?
Yesterday when I was in the kitchen I noticed a sudden flurry of sparrows fly close to the back window. Unusual. I checked it out. Six sparrows were perched on the edge of the cats’ water dish, drinking the water. No cats around. No people around. They didn’t notice me at the screen door so I watched them for several minutes. The dish, a plastic moss-green Tupperware bowl, seemed made for them to perch on. Every so often one or two would fly away and others land or hop up. A couple squabbled, all flapping wings and squawks. One hopped onto the multi-coloured stone in the middle and ruffled its chest in the water even though I have a bird bath out front. When they took a drink and paused, looking around, the water drops on their beaks glistened in sunlight. I could have watched them all day but a neighbour drove into their yard and all the sparrows flew away in a single whoosh.
I memorised the details, searching for the right word for the jewel of water from their beaks. A pearl? Maybe but not quite. I’m a poet at heart and knew I’d just witnessed a poem. A Mary Oliver moment. A moment full of light where anything I might have been troubled about didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but being in that moment, watching and absorbing it all. Cementing it into a poem would come later. But how to describe that drop of water? A pearl? Maybe?
Later that evening my hubby and I met up with one of his daughters visiting from out of town and his son and two of our grandchildren. We hadn’t seen each other for over a year and Mae who is 8 rushed up to me and gave me the biggest hug. A real adult kind of hug, tight where you don’t let go and give little squeezes throughout. My stepson later described her as ‘an old soul’. Absolutely. But after that hug she again became a little girl in a magenta ruffled skirt wearing a Ninja Turtle mask. At dinner Mae proudly confided to me, “I’m wearing pearls, look.” And indeed she was—a single strand of pearls hung around her neck.
Maybe the word pearl would work after all. I imagine a story of birds daring to drink water from the cats’ dish on the hottest day of the year to gather pearls to make a pretty necklace for an old soul of a little girl. And I have moments of light to revisit.
I write a haiku everyday with a somewhat accompanying picture, a practice which forces me to look for the little moments in a day that matter. They’re not always light, but overtime they shine a light into my life: day by day by day, moment by moment by moment.
I also write a gratitude journal every day: 5 things I’m grateful for that day. Then, because that can become stale and rote, 3 things that made that day unique (these do not necessarily have to be ‘light’ things) and finally a ‘big win’ for that day. If nothing else this practice helps me think about my day and again helps me to notice what is happening throughout the day. Not every day has a big win but again it becomes a practice that forces me to seek out the brighter spots in a day. Sometimes it can be rewatching favourite movies, listening to my Spotify playlists (I swear I have a list for every mood!), reading poetry (writing poetry, haiku or pretty much anything), painting, going for a walk in nature, puzzles under umbrella shade…some days, like yesterday, bring enough light to carry me through prolonged dark. They are the pearls.
Day 231 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
Pet sitting black cat
yellow crescent moon eyes
beg me to stay
Day three of my Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson.
What an enlightening day! I miss many of the usual things and people but I found my 'missings' kept returning to my paternal Nanna and Grandpop's house:
the little green-painted stool in their back hallway, painted so many times with thick paint over thicker paint that the little grab hole in the centre became smaller and smaller each time;
reading cross-legged on the floor on their upstairs landing in front of the floor to ceiling airing cupboard piled high with musty old comic books and annuals that my dad read as a boy;
crawling under the floor length net/lace curtains to gaze out the landing window and look down at my white-haired Nanna standing by the black wrought iron gate gossiping with head-scarved neighbourhood women ;
at Nanna and Grandpop's playing with Judy, my aunt's childhood doll. I always had to ask specially to play with her as she was very old, even older than my aunt, and she was a delicate doll with a porcelain head and and hands and feet but with a delightfully soft body made of sawdust perhaps? Something lovely and soft. I loved all dolls but especially Judy. Her hands and feet curled like a baby's so she could never stand up or walk but she could be cuddled endlessly, a pleasing, droopy weight in my arms which made me feel immediately protective towards her. I always wanted to take Judy home to play with her but I never could. She was old and I was young and I was told that I had to leave her there for my other much younger cousins and especially my aunt's children.
But looks had passed between adults over my head and I sensed there was something more to it all, something I was missing. I felt excluded I guess although I had no idea why. The reasons were given were reasonable and logical to my child's mind but my child's senses had picked up on something murky.
So today, thinking about things I missed, my thoughts and feelings returned continually to my Nanna and Grandpop's house. Puzzling. Why? Some things that popped up, that stool for instance, hadn't crossed my mind in decades. I puzzled over it for hours as I went about my day, trying to be open to what was surfacing.
Finally I understood.
Seven years ago when I was 53 and Mam had been dead for 9 months, I found out completely out of the blue and 'by accident' that my dad was not my biological father as I had believed and been told all these years. I felt stupid--that was my first reaction. How could I not have known? I'd had suspicions from time to time but was always convinced otherwise. Of course my dad was still my dad, moreso really--he had wanted and accepted me--and his story with Mam was touching and full of love. But when I told him that I knew, we rode a highly emotionally charged roller coaster for several days. He was furious that I had found out the truth. I understood why the lie and had immense compassion for Mam especially but my world was deeply shaken. And I understood that look. Judy belonged in the bloodline family.
So today, when my thoughts kept returning to Nanna and Grandpop's house, Dad's parents, and I finally understood why, I realised what I was missing:
I miss what I thought was the rock solid security of my childhood, of not knowing what I now know about my birth. I miss not knowing that I was being lied to and misled for all those years.
Day two of my Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson.
I am obsessed with corgis. I just love them. They make my heart sing. I haven't had any in my adult life (opting for rescues and not finding corgi-crosses) but I grew up with two and, as an only child, considered them, along with our Siamese cat, as siblings. Their floofy butts. Their smiling faces. Their waddling walk. The eldest of the two we had, Kim (male), was completely loyal to me unless there was food handy. He was a plump ginger and white corgi and he sat by me for endless hours as I crouched on the stairs weeping and wailing, "No-one loves me except Kim!" This usually after I hadn't gotten my own way for something. When he left if he thought he heard food, my lament became "No-one loves me. Not even Kim!" But Kim always returned so I could hug him and bury my head in his short fur. On walks up the hills with my parents he used to corral me by running quick circles around my feet so I couldn't walk if I went out of sight of my parents. Kim lived to be 13, he'd been with me since I was 2 and my heart broke when we had to let him go.
Decades later I visited a psychic who told me that I had a spirit guide, a mutli-coloured dog who I once knew. Kim! I immediately wanted it to be Kim. So why not? I felt protected and reassured. Another decade or more later and a different medium told me that a dog had come running as soon as I sat down. She had trouble describing his colour...not really brown, not reddish, some white...could it be like a ginger colour? I asked. "Yes! Ginger. You know this dog?" I explained about Kim being a spirit guide. "A dog as a spirit guide? Hhmm...why not?" Why not indeed.
Rainbows that dance across my ceilings and floors fascinate me and lift my spirits. A kind woman I once knew had rainbows all across her living room when the sun shone in and I resolved to create that atmosphere in my own home. Crystals hang from all my windows.
Lately I'm obsessed with the dragonfly Autumne sent, the gift of its visit, that jolt in the pit of my stomach before it landed on me, "Notice this!" Why me? Simply as a thank you for being there for her and her family? To let me know she's okay? My hope is that her family and close friends can be similarly reassured. Then I ponder all the other 'afterlife' reassurances I've had, relive each one.
I'm obsessed with haiku, with recording my life in little snippets each day, a moment, a pause, a thought. My form of a daily journal. And reading haiku. I gobble it up unabashedly. Moment after moment after moment.
I have cupboards and cupboards full of tea of all sorts. Yep. A wee bit obsessed there! I love the act of tea making even though I drink mine super weak and the comforting smell of it (all kinds) and how tea equals care for me. When I was growing up if ever someone needed to chat, the kettle always went on and a cuppa was shared.
But I am also obsessed with my turquoise water bottle. And I carry it with me everywhere. It's the same style and colour as the one my son loaned me when we visited him in Arizona last year. I bought it from Amazon as soon as we got home: turquoise for me and purple for my hubby. Apart from that link, it resembles self care to me, makes me feel like I'm doing something nurturing for myself by drinking at least 2 bottles full each day. I had gotten super sick before that trip and a friend recommended drinking lots of water so I link the beginning to feel almost human again with drinking water.
Then there's incense, especially nap champa, and fancy soaps (patchouli but also florals and Karma from Lush) and violet scented things like those violet candies (permaviolet? Am I making that up?) from when I was a kid.
So many obsessions! So many rabbit holes!
What are YOUR obsessions? Indulge them!
As promised, this is day one of my Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson.
I wish for open windows with salt air breezes and thin cotton curtains wafting over flowering geraniums and African violets--the tall and the short and the joy of differences.
I long for open log fireplaces and heavy wooden beams in winter and a deep mantel with a gleaming carriage clock with twirling parts and chimes every hour.
I want wooden plank floors worn smooth by years of bare foot walking.
I want to walk along winding paths through wild flowers and a wooden swing from the strongest branch of the tallest oak.
I want a porch swing...hell, even the porch for it to sit on.
I want kitchen cupboards that smell of tea or rosemary and windchimes and bells inside and out. (I actually already have the windchimes and bells inside and out and delight in accidentally brushing up against them and hearing Rob (my hubby) sometimes say, "Another angel has its wings." But I'll always take more!)
I want (need!) an upstairs bathroom and a cleaned-out basement and after reading Renee's list I realise I desperately want useful upstairs closets so I can move the cumbersome clothes rack draped in memories of finding out the truth about my birth out of sight and into the closet!
I wish for skylights, starry nights and hideaway lofts.
I want to visit Dane and Jonathan (my son and his husband) in Tucson Arizona for the month of March without the threat of a pandemic cancelling or changing our plans.
I want to get the pond liner out of my car trunk and clear the brush and revitalise the pond in my back yard. I want to not be overwhelmed by the amount of work I envision in doing this.
I want to build a fence where the garage was.
I want more of my writing published and to be a well-known and well-respected, even well-loved, author. (There I said it for all to read. Gulp.) And I also dream of this.
I want more pairs of tai chi shoes as soft as the ones I already have.
And YOU, my dear friend, what do YOU want?
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.