10 Things Inspired by Renee Magnusson & Effy Wild
Book of Days 2022
1. I took Spook, aka Little Cat in haiku, to the vets yesterday morning after work. Her fur had become very matted. She had had one big matt for far too long but I couldn’t get it off her then simply became ashamed, guilty and worried that she seemed neglected because of it or that they wouldn’t give her back to me or something. It never seemed to bother her…she rolled happily on it but she is overweight and could no longer groom her back. When other smaller matts also began to appear, I knew I couldn’t ignore it any more. The vet was non-judgemental, at least to my face, and fortunately they were able to shave it off without sedation.
2. Guilt and shame are useless paralysing emotions. So is feeling guilt and shame about feeling guilt and shame. Moving forward and absorbing lessons is much more productive once guilt and shame have been faced.
3. My cuticles are ragged; my nails rough and chewed. Mam picked her cuticles too but she had nice nails. I envy nice nails. I love painted nails but I’m busy creating with my hands these days and the nail polish ends up being paint-speckled. For me, elegance is manicured hands.
4. Almost the end of January and this is my 2nd year of daily haiku and a photo posted on instagram #365daysofsybwriting & #365daysofsybwriting22 I love this daily practice and feel pleased that I have this tent peg in my day. A way of saying I was here. I noticed this day. This is my world. A habit that helps keep me grounded.
5. I love having long hot baths, especially in winter, and have been having a relaxing bath before bed at least once a week lately. I keep a selection of bath products to choose from because I love choices. Last week I used a rose-scented bath bomb called Tisty Tosty from Lush. Shaped like a heart, it has a written message around its edge: I choose to love and accept myself as I am in this moment.
6. After my bath, I scooped up 5 pink bedraggled rosebuds from the water and, as their scent still lingered, kept them on the bath mat on the side of the tub for days so I could just pick them up and smell them as the wind whistled around the house on days with highs of minus 18 Celsius. One night Rob noticed them and admitted that he thought they were stray cat treats and had almost given them to the cats.
7. The rosebuds also reminded me of the movie Dead Poets Society, specifically of the poem which begins ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’, and made me want to rewatch the movie. It’s one of my favourites. All about being true to yourself and following your own dreams, forging your own path and making the most of every day.
8. Last week I reconnected with someone I had gone to junior school (ages 7 to 11) with. Philip Meadows had been a terrific artist throughout school, his work was usually displayed on ‘the wall’ and I was delighted to learn that he has a very successful career as an artist, often depicting the era and area, the industrial northeast of England, we grew up in. His portrayals of back alleys and yards with their outside toilets and sheep and Dales paintings made me teary and nostalgic. My biggest memory involving him in school was one where I had drawn a conch shell, maybe in 2nd year. I was thrilled to have it displayed on ‘the wall’ but no one believed I had drawn it! They all thought Phil had. I didn’t dare remove the drawing to show everyone my name on the back. I remember feeling really frustrated. Even when I dragged Phil into the classroom to say that he hadn’t drawn it, he was no use because he couldn’t really remember nor did he care as his work was always being displayed and it wasn’t a big thing to him.
9. Being in touch with Phil through messenger, we discovered a mutual love of bagpipes. He plays them and mentioned Simon Fraser University, where I went, as having a good pipe band. I never knew! But he stirred another memory. One misty morning, I was getting out of Buggy (my 72 blue VW bug) in the SFU parking lot and I swore I could hear bagpipes. But I couldn’t see anyone playing them and their notes just seemed to swirl around carried on the mist. I had only been in Canada a few years and put it down to my imagination and missing ‘home’ particularly badly that day. Lol.
10. The other day, despite the cold, I noticed an industrious chickadee plucking dried grass from our hanging baskets. I believe in embracing the season we’re in as much as possible (unless it’s an unbearably hot summer which has a more withering effect on me than a frigid winter) but my heart swelled with hope that if a chickadee was looking to build a nest, spring must be somewhere on the horizon.
1. Hanging baskets
topped with cones of snow
winter foliage #20
2. Inside, moth snoozes
while trees tap a lullaby
winter afternoon #22
5. Coldest night this year
sink deep into bath water
rosebuds smell of spring #25
6. Deep peach sunset
bare branches reach to capture
home before dark #26
7. Against next door’s bbq
an army of snow shovels
8. Old pendulum clock
always the wrong time lately
these covid days #29
9. Little cat at vets
prodded, poked, shaved
quickly forgives #30
So long Betty White.
Thank you for the love, the light,
the joy and the laughter
that will last ever after.
I was just going to pop in here to wish you a very happy, healthy and wealthy 2022 and to post my final blog for 2021 then I heard on the news that Betty White, one of my favourite comedians had died. I resolved that the first star I saw tonight I would dedicate to Betty and all the laughter and caring she’s generated and demonstrated over the years. But then, as the sun was setting the street light across the street winked on and that seemed more fitting for such a bright light as Betty who died only a couple of weeks shy of her 100th birthday. I loved her in all her shows, in all her characters and in her shining example of love for our four-legged friends. Perhaps not just four-legged. It was perhaps also very fitting that I found out about her death on the radio as I filling the bird feeders.
I’m off to work soon—hopefully for a couple of quiet midnight shifts. Here is the 1st haiku of December 2021 and the last few. I did it! 365 days of haiku and pictures. Never missed a day. Planning to do it all over again for 2022. You may have to match the haiku to the picture yourself. There isn’t one for the 1st December, only the haiku. That should help. Also I didn't include the squirrels at the feeder picture. That should also help!
Wishing you all the very best with much love and many thanks for your support and love throughout the past years. Shine bright, lovelies!
of British cheeses
friendship the true gift #335
Fun, love, laughter, peace
knitted into Christmas
heartfelt stitch by stitch #360
Long candlelight bath
a do nothing day
wrap in cartoon- corgi warmth #361
Wild snowstorm all day
full feeders #362
Major snow clearing
mittens stuffed in heaters
northern winter #363
childhood town now on tv
friends’ gifts touch my heart #364
Christmas cat slippers
click click of heels.
Goodbye old year! Hello new! #365
Day Ten (Beauty) Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful Easy Feelings
In my world, this is what was beautiful today (and I included yesterday as that was when the prompt came in):
Day 324 of 365 days of haiku
Cloudy sky drama
full moon sinks and winks
early morning shop
Day Nine Wild of Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful Easy Feelings
‘To live wild is to stop breaking your own heart.’ ~Renee Magnusson
I will cherish those words, use them a barometer for my life. How many times do we break our own hearts? For me, it’s not an audible snap but a muffled suffocation, a stuffing down of feelings, a denial of yearnings.
I am wild when my feet touch the ground and I walk through this world, preferably the natural world but it can be the streets of this town, too, with the elements—wind, rain, snow, sleet, sun—tangling in my hair, soaking into my skin or clothes, resting on my lips. Even a walk around the block is enough to feel part of this natural world but I deny myself that even…a ten minute walk…so very often. Afraid of being seen? Afraid of neighbours stopping me to discuss the trees? (my neighbours don’t like my trees—my yard is quite wild) And yet I arrive home feeling so much more alive, in touch with the wildest part of me, than if I had never gone. Ten minutes. Just do it, right? Even in the dark. Home from work early in the morning as day breaks. Before I get inside and cosy down. It is so doable and the payoff is huge.
My long hair is wild. The visibly wildest part of me. Wind-tangled hair invigorates me. The shortest I’ll ever cut it is shoulder length. It was short once when I was maybe 5 or 6. I missed it so much that I constantly wore a knitted hat with its under the chin ties loose so they brushed against my shoulders like braids. I had plans to write about my wild hair and my love of wind-tangled hair when an email from Louise made me smile. We chatted yesterday after tai chi the way we usually do, trying to take shelter against an icy wind by the WalMart wall. Louise emailed me later that day and shared the following: I was intrigued by your flying hair as we chatted today against the brick wall. It was like your hair had so much energy...so much to say. I need to listen to my hair which doesn’t mind the elements and responds instinctively to them.
Some of my clothes are wild. Two of my most favourite items are long, almost to my knees, and I feel powerful when they flap around me, flow out behind me when I stride-walk. One is a maroon wrap around cardigan that I bought myself. The other is a soft black button down coat with long side slits. I call it my riding coat because it seems like it would be a terrific riding coat. It is spring and fall weight and was given to me by Jo-Anne who found it somewhere (a yard sale or Value Village?) and thought I would like it and that it might fit me. I believe it was custom made for me, I love it so. If I was a super hero I would demand a long flowing cape.
I feel wild and true to myself when I do Tarot or witchy things and acknowledge and live by my intuition. I’m at my most in tune with myself at those times.
I feel wild in a way with my choice to work midnights, to go against the grain a little. It is formed by my desire to work 3 10 hour shifts a week rather than many 4 or 5 hour shifts during the day. But still, it feels a little wild, bohemian perhaps, to be on a different schedule than most people, to leave and return home in silver light rather than in the golden light of day. Mysterious.
Day 323 of 365 days of haiku
infused with his energy
best gift ever
Day Eight Simple Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful, Easy Feelings
I’ve determined that the best way for me to simplify my life is to become a Nike Ninja and Just Do It! Of course some days that’s easier than others but mostly I ponder everything fifty times before I do it then wonder where my day has gone. It got lost in a swamp of pondering. I’ll get so much more done when I recognise this and just move forward with the next thing instead of wondering:
a) what the next thing might be
b) if that is the next thing then what is the next next thing
c) what if the 1st next thing isn’t really ready to be the next thing
d) what are all the consequences of going ahead with the 1st next thing being the actual next thing
e) what if the 1st next thing is something I haven’t even considered yet
f) what if I get interrupted or the actual next thing takes longer than expected
Soooo complicated. My life would and could be much simpler if I do instead of contemplate. I also can move on faster with all of this when I’ve first done something to please myself, often art. I have a tendency to push my art, particularly aside until all the emails are answered, all the banking is done, all the tedious stuff done. I know this is a usual way to do things—the reward after but it seems to work in reverse for me, especially as I sometimes never actually get to the reward!
I noticed this today. Instead of thinking about all the dirty dishes, I decorated a journal first. Thrilled and energised by that, I just set in to the dishes, finished them then worked on the journal some more as it was dry by then. Came back downstairs and put all the now dry dishes away. That was so simple, so stream-lined.
For years I had magnetic curtain rods on my front and back doors as the doors are steel. I lost track of how many times the curtain fell on people, making them look like Carol Burnett in her infamous Scarlett O’Hara and the curtains sketch. Those curtains made life anything but simple. A good friend had bought a set at the same time and when I remembered to ask her about hers she told me she had gotten rid of them years ago. “Life can be hard enough without adding to it with curtains that are a nuisance,” she said. Oh so wise! I tend to endure things. Often for no good reason!
When my dear friend Linda came to stay with me from B.C. when I was freshly single, she set to putting pieces of cardboard under the feet of my dining room table to steady it, wedging some under the top of the table itself so it didn’t tilt every time someone leaned on it and finally pulling a drawer right out and re-setting it into its space so it didn’t almost fall out every time we opened it. All those things total took her half an hour at the very most. Me? I just anticipated it all and adjusted to it. But that takes energy, that adjustment each time, that niggling ‘oh I should fix that’ or even worse, ‘everything is breaking around me’ victim mentality. “Do what you can about what you can while you can,” said Linda. “There’s too much uncertainty in life to be not dealing with the little things you can change, things that make your day to day life easier.”
I have the wisest, smartest friends. Now I just need to remember and learn by them!
Day 322 of 365 days of haiku
1. Clawing through his crate
Grey Cat eager to get home
galaxy of crescents
Day Seven Ease Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful Easy Feelings
I love how these prompts all seem to overlap and tumble into one another. Like the other day, I certainly had ease changing my sheets because they’re all in one place close to the bed and I can easily sort through and choose which ones I want (provided I’m up on my laundry). I don’t always like everything matching so the more choices I have with something, the happier I am. Sometimes this can be stressful rather than full of ease but for the most part, I feel rich and awash in abundance when I have choices.
I set up my morning clothes the night before. I can change everything if I decide the next morning but I rarely do. My mornings tend to be slow and relaxed, even when my ‘mornings’ are really late afternoons after sleeping all day in the middle of my midnight work stretches. My before-sleep habits of drinking a cup of tea in bed and writing my gratitude pages then sometimes reading ease me into sleep. That familiar comfort.
I’m most in the zone when I’m being creative (painting or writing), occupying my mind by doing word puzzles or just driving with my tunes blasting or practising tai chi or walking or dancing. I rarely let myself dance now but I used to dance all the time when I was younger, up into my early 20s. I used to have to have this physical outlet—it was meditative almost—choosing the right 45 or LP (lol!), turning the lights out and just moving by myself, preferably with no one else around. I rehashed and rehearsed scenes in my mind, shook out feelings and dreamed so I wasn’t always exactly right in the moment but I always felt better after dancing. Why did I stop? Family? Space? I remember my son being in the hospital when he was 8 months old (viral pneumonia) and carrying him to the nurse’s station and catching ‘Kokomo’ by the Beach Boys on the radio and dancing with him in the hallway and him smiling, obviously starting to feel better.
Music is my go to shoehorn for any mood I want to be in and creating Spotify playlists like the old cassette tapes is one of my absolute favourite rabbit holes to fall down.
Not all my relationships have the ease that I’d like although most of them do. When meeting with one of my good friends, I bring imaginary butterfly gates. In the past, I had at times felt not exactly attacked but as if my feelings weren’t validated, as if comments I made were sometimes countered in a way that made me feel small. I don’t know. It’s a feeling so it’s hard to describe. But I valued the relationship enough to try to find a way to make it work and to look at my own contribution to it. I can be very defensive and take slight very easily. Imagining gates made of fluttering butterflies that waft away anything that seems unnecessarily hurtful yet letting in all the loveliness and sharing that goes on in the friendship really helps. I felt too vulnerable discussing it with her as I felt it would make me seem too defensive which is how she described me. But counselling and my gates helped as did pulling away for a while. In time I’ve noticed that she seems much more open and accepting of opinions and feelings different to her own. I like to think that I’m less defensive in all of my relationships, too.
The most beautiful thing happened regarding ease today. I was thinking that I would need to text my friend Sharron to check in with plans for lunch next week with our friend Liza. But first I wanted to get out early and go shopping for birthday pressies. I went all over town, ending up way on the other side. I pulled into a metered parking spot and fretted about not having the change for the meter. While still in my car who should get into the car next to me but Sharron! The chances were extraordinary! So we got to sort everything out and get a quick face to face chat in. No texts involved! I just love it when such synchronicity happens. Oh and there was enough time already on the meter for me to visit the store I wanted to! Even better.
Day 321 of 365 days of haiku
closest to the feeder
icy wind cuts through
Day Six Space Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful, Easy Feelings
The prompt ‘space’ made me cringe, made me ponder my cluttered, crowded house with its unfinished floors and the basement issues yet I do find peace here, perhaps not as deeply as I’d wish sometimes but I do love my home. What I have on my walls defines me and my space best I think. My hubby Rob doesn’t much care about what’s on the walls or about the general state of the house except for finding things in the kitchen which is much more his domain so I have free reign with what goes on the walls.
I have a whole room to myself for my creating. I call it my studio as it sounds loft-ish and Heidi-ish but it’s really a small 3rd bedroom upstairs. It needs some (lots!) of reorganising but parts are well-organised. I’m in the process of sorting through the roomy drawers in the old desk from my dad’s office in Burrard Dry Dock, North Vancouver so I can group together ideas and pages and schedules for a round robin art journal group I stumbled into: Gladdened Gluebooks II. I use a microwave table as my painty table as it has lots of storage underneath it. Most of my upstairs tea selection lies behind its bottom cupboard.
I aim for my bedroom to have the best ambiance in the house (I’ve given up on it being the living room as Rob usually has boxes of files piled haphazardly that he’s working on) and sometimes manage it. It’s the easiest room to corral clutter and again I’m using the practicality of drawers to stash things. The two top drawers in my dresser are full of Rob’s odd socks. Lol. Ten minutes of sorting and matching or throwing away and I’ll easily have at least one drawer for more storage. I became entranced with Marie Kondo’s methods of storing clothes a few years ago and am thrilled that I keep up with it for the most part. My armoire is full of box lids crammed with T-shirts, leggings, yoga pants and skirts; its drawers have neatly folded nighties and underwear. The underwear delights me and I’ll often arrange them in like-colours just to get that burst of pleasure when I open the drawer.
Today when I changed the bed sheets, I got them, somewhat neatly folded, from a little wicker, cloth-lined basket at the foot of my bed. This kind of organisation, things having a place to live and actually living there in harmony without exploding out, pleases me. Some of my favourite stuffies (yes I have stuffies!) sit on top of the basket: a bright pink elephant with sparkling toe nails that my ‘sister’ (really my ex-sister-in-law, Brenda) gave me as a birthday pressie one year; a soft white teddy that Mam surprised me with on my 50th birthday; and her old woollen poodle, Fifi, who was a gift from France from an old fiancé. I had never realised before how much happiness this one little space in my home gives me.
Thinking about space (and ease which is actually today’s prompt) I realise how much more energizing it is to consider the positive parts of space in my home—those things which do work. Concentrating on them gives me the incentive to keep spreading that kind of calm. Much more conducive to creating a harmonious space than freaking out about unfinished floors and clutter.
My first apartment was originally occupied by a good friend who loved old décor, stout velvet couches and dark heavy furniture. When I moved in, I had a love seat and couch set made of pine with canvas cushions, very Ikea-looking. The difference was incredible even though the space was the same. Other friends commented on how light and airy the place looked when I lived there. Oh to achieve that now!
Yesterday, in the hospital waiting room, I considered my personal space. I had commandeered a row of seats against a back wall by sitting in the very middle seat. I like to have my back against a wall when in a public place if possible. I sat under a trio of watercolour paintings of flowers and local scenes so I could easily twist round and admire them. They calmed me. As did having a view of the whole waiting room and corridors. A sense of control in a situation where I really had little control.
Day 319 of 365 days of haiku
all the pretty things
Pretty Christmas tag
red-tasselled ornate heart
Day Five Golden Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful, Easy Feelings
What has felt golden to me these last few days? I found this to be a harder prompt. Maybe because I was working all those days and today am more fuzzy-minded from being on the cleansing day before a colonoscopy tomorrow. Couple very few calories with the general fuzziness from a turnaround day where I try to get back onto a regular day schedule and I feel sluggish in body and brain. In some respects though, and I am familiar with the high of too few calories from long ago in my teens, I feel more in touch with my body than usual. I’m not using food to numb out or to try to stay awake and more focussed. Nor can I even fall back on diet cola, my old energising stand by, due to the dark dye. So, due to all this, I thought this post would be short, consisting mainly of my tent pegs, my daily haiku. Those little moments of noticing what I’m noticing.
And then there was this:
This morning I had one and a half hour’s sleep after work, then woke up very reluctantly to my alarm. Time for my son-in-law Jonathan’s service. He’s a minister for Unity of Tucson in Arizona, formally a science of mind minister. I like to watch the services live if I can as they make me feel closer to my son Dane (even though Dane rarely watches his husband’s services! Lol) but also because Jonathan usually gives me something to think about and his services are fun, full of song (Jonathan was an actor before becoming a minister) and uplifting. Jonathan started his ministry journey in Toronto which is where he met Dane. When Dane told me he was dating this guy who was a minister in a Centre For Spiritual Living, all my maternal antennae sprung up. Kool Aid came to mind. And the guy’s last name was Zenz! Well, that just couldn’t be right. So I sought Jonathan out and watched his past services online. Meanwhile Dane had never been to one! My mam had recently died at this time and I found that the services and the messages just spoke to me, echoing my own beliefs which had strong but not mainstream. I often watched service after service on my phone late at night sobbing my heart out. When I met Jonathan I was relieved to find that he’s actually very quiet (not the bouncing, energetic persona onstage) and thoughtful and that Zenz is legitimately his last name.
Dane and Jonathan got married 5 years ago. I have never been to a wedding or any ceremony where there was so much love and joy and pure celebration. Eventually Jonathan left CSL Toronto and moved, in time, back to Tucson, his hometown. He started his own practice there and eventually, while we were down there visiting, landed the position at Unity of Tucson, a bit more God-focused but Jonathan blends the two well.
Today the guest speaker was Monk Yun Rou (meaning Soft Cloud) who is a Doaist monk. His story was incredible. He was the instigator, purely by accident, of the pay it forward movement by pausing for a second before getting out of his car to have an argument with an obnoxious man behind him in a Florida Starbucks coffee drive through line up. Instead of fighting (which was his initial reaction), Monk got back into his car and offered to pay for the man’s coffee. But the man had ordered breakfast for a whole bunch of people. Monk hesitated but then paid the full amount before getting on with his day. He came back home to a full answering machine and many many messages from people working at Starbucks wanting him to call them. Eventually a national news reporter left a message wanting to interview him. It turned out that the man whose order Monk had paid for, paid for the person behind him. Monk did this at 8am, when he answered the phone from the reporter, it was 3pm and the paying it forward was still going on. We’ve all heard the story. To listen to the originator who teaches tai chi (yay tai chi!) at Jonathan’s church was quite remarkable. Golden in fact.
‘Remember who you are,’ Jonathan says all the time. Monk’s message was also that in remembering who he was (or perhaps even who he wanted to be or not be), he made a ripple that reached out way beyond his initial gesture. ‘Be aware of the interconnectedness of everything,’ he says. A wonderful reminder. We do this best by being our true selves.
‘Stay gold,’ Renee reminds us, ‘What feels golden is what feels true to you…make note of the moments of truth in your life.’
Catching Monk’s message, embracing little moments and small things in each day, looking for synchronicities, watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race at work on my downtime at work (Dane suggested it to me and I did watch a couple of episodes with him and Jonathan in Tucson last year. Now I’m watching all 12 episodes chronologically. That show is so addictive!): these have been some of my golden moments these past few days.
Rain streams down windows
branches snap, wind chimes tangle
excitement brews #316
In gold leaves white cat sits
still as a stone
squirrels chant warnings #317
Wild wayward wind
maple key behind a bell
single-winged toad #318
Thank you for reading. Stay true to you.
Day Four Enchantment Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful Easy Feelings
Enchantment seemed to flow all around me today. But perhaps that was the strong wild wind and driving rain. Moody broody weather days always seem to hold more enchantment for me. Perhaps part of enchantment is that hint of unpredictability. I drove past an upturned rotting fence post beside a patch of mustard-coloured grass and I felt that a whole story lay there.
A small cast iron bell in the shape of a toad which hangs on the front of my house had a maple key lodged behind it. It looked like the toad had sprouted a wing. Oh how that enchanted me, fostering a quick photo, a haiku and possibly a poem.
I find enchantment in words, playing with them, stringing them together until they sparkle like Christmas lights. It’s magic. Magic and enchantment feel like they walk hand in hand. Again, an elevation of the mundane. Alliterations and vivid descriptions, both reading them and creating them, entertain me. The challenge of haiku, both reading and writing them—capturing a molecule in a day and expanding it into something universal. As I write this, I recognise that words and noticing are two of my superpowers. That enchants me and I idly wonder why I don’t combine them more in ‘practical’ magic. What would happen if I did?
I drove earlier to tai chi class at the gym today so I could sit alone in the parking lot at 11a.m. to observe the 2 minute silence and to silently thank my Grandpa Boag, whom I never met, for his service in WWII. Then I sat in the car with the rain beating down, being rocked by the wind, doing a word puzzle until it was time to rush inside. That time, the timing all working out, the world of peace and quiet within my car all felt magical.
An overheard conversation before tai chi amused and enchanted me. A woman talking about her ‘stitch and bitch’ class. Her friend saying she’d never heard of that then the woman’s husband replying: “It’s where they go to cut everyone up then stitch them back together again.” It tickled me.
I see enchantment in Louise in her gorgeous rain jacket, mostly black with neon green and pink patches—a splash of bright colour on this grey day like an abstract painting moving across the parking lot.
I love Renee’s prompts of where in your body do you sense these feelings. Enchantment…I feel it deep in my bones, in the very pit of my stomach (my tan tien), in my feet rooted to the floor in tai chi and my hands full of tiny lightning bolts. I look for it everywhere and find it in the whimsy of a little toad bell ready to soar.
Day 315 of 365 days of haiku
Hard rain, wild wind day
branches tap windows
Day Three Surprise from Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful & Easy Feelings
Oh I love surprises! And I can remember exactly the time when I decided to let even more surprise into my life. As a child (a child spoiled with lots of presents!) I used to hunt down the hiding places for my Christmas pressies. I became really good at being sneaky and replacing everything just so. No one caught on for years. I’m not sure why I did this—partly the thrill of being sneaky I think but also not being able to handle the suspense of waiting perhaps. Anyway, I never fully opened the packages (never opened them if they were gift-wrapped) but just peered through the plastic bags. This way it didn’t fully feel like cheating.
One Christmas (I just googled what year it must have been and I must have been 13! I thought I’d stopped doing this much earlier!) I went through the usual hiding spots and came across an LP. I smoothed out the plastic bag. Cilla Black! It looked like Cilla Black. My heart sank. Cilla Black was a popular middle-of-the-road singer, the kind my parents liked. I didn’t dislike her but really…Cilla Black? I couldn’t read her name, the record store logo covered most of the bag, but yes, through the plastic it looked like her silhouette. I wondered if it could be for someone else but didn’t think so. I tucked it back exactly as I’d found it and rehearsed how surprised I’d have to pretend to be when I opened it. Surprised and not disappointed. It had been drummed into me to always be appreciative of the gifts I got, no matter what I thought of them. Someone had gone to a lot of time and trouble to buy them.
On Christmas Day I easily spotted the wrapped LP. As I unwrapped it, practising my surprised act, I saw Mam and Dad share a smile as if this was a great gift, as if they’d outdone themselves in choosing it for me. I opened it expecting to see Cilla’s face grinning at me. Instead I saw Alvin Stardust, one of my absolute favourite singers! I’m sure I gasped with delight. I was completely surprised. No acting needed! Mam and Dad laughed, no doubt pleased by my authentic reaction and if high fives were a thing back then I’m sure they’d have high-fived.
That high of being genuinely surprised was enough to make me never peek again at gifts. To the point where I keep early gifts wrapped for weeks, if necessary until the actual date of the event. A parcel arrived from one of my British friends the other day and I knew it was for Christmas. I left it in its brown paper packaging until I checked with her that yes, it is wrapped with Christmas paper inside so I can safely open the brown paper. I never want to know what happens in a book or movie before I watch it. Let me be surprised, please.
This morning I thought of copying out Renee’s list of prompts so that I would know what was coming on each day so I knew how to label the files to save them ahead of time. But the thought didn’t linger long. I had tried not to read the list and certainly blocked out remembering it so that each day’s prompt is a surprise.
Part of the joy of haiku, both in reading it and trying to create a good one, is that element of surprise with the juxtaposition of remotely related ideas, that jump from something specific to something broader or vice versa. I think this challenge of finding that link, that surprise, is what keeps my interest in writing them.
These days, my favourite surprises are serendipitous ones like the peace card which arrived yesterday on ‘peace’ day. I keep my antennae tuned for those.
I arrange readings for a writing organisation in town. The readings are by local writers of varying standards giving them a chance to see how others react to their work: are people gasping when they should? laughing at the right place? etc. The readings themselves often have their own surprises. One woman I had to coax to read stunned everyone with the depth and intensity of both her work and her reading itself on her mental health journey. Once a poet arrived just in time making us worry that she maybe wasn’t going to show at all. Because of this she read last. And read a poem that she had written just that morning, right after her father had died. Again, we were stunned and moved. And surprised. How could she even do that? Both the writing then the very public reading on such a day?
The monthly readings, now on zoom, happened tonight and all the stories were solidly written and compelling. But my favourite part of the readings comes at the end when I give out thank you cards (often from local artists) with money inside from the organisation. New readers had no clue they would get paid and I loved their surprised responses. With zoom, the treasurer now handles the money but I get to send ecards, again often a surprise especially to new readers. I love surprising people in pleasant ways as much as I can. There’s nothing like a good surprise to brighten a day.
Day 314 of 365 days of haiku
Three card Tarot spread
stepping stone into the day
rippled clouds float by
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.