Tag Archives: writing101

Voithos 2.1.1

Journal entry 2022Feb01

gorge Jeff SheldonJanuary in Southeastern Washington is mild compared to the last month I spent with the kids in Chicago. Now settled back into the apartment at the ranch from my two month visit, I’m comfortable and happy.

boyd sans cape

Moving home to the Ranch, so close to my crazy kid brother could have been worse, but it was the best move I ever made. However rough he’s always been a gem.

To be living my dream is marvelous. Royalties from my app already provided enough residual income for all those travel pieces. Aside from my blog, releasing rights as featured spots on my friend’s newspaper blog was a good call. I’m so glad I networked the project out to young Techies that keep my work on the cutting edge of the market place.

telex-vulcanhammmer-infotypewriter-pixabayAnd to think I actually salvaged so many of my old manuscripts. Those ones I keyed from a an old, rented typewriter onto discarded telex paper rolls (so I didn’t have to feed paper sheets). Did I really get through them all only five years after I moved back to the Ranch?

I shake off the chill and voice, “Voithos, coffee please.” In moments I could breathe in the aroma of a fresh mug of brew. “In a few more weeks I’ll enjoy opening the new electronic wall to bring in the fragrance and color of the landscape – and let the dogs in when I call them.” Not realizing I’d been speaking my rambling thoughts, Voithos, in his rich brogue responds, “Acknowledged.”

Heh, heh, I think. The folding, patio doors I installed, replacing the original garage door is now considered old school. I sigh. Dated or not, I love them.

Was it only five years after that first WordPress Blogging U course (fine, the second), I became a paid Technical Adviser for the upcoming YouTube enterprise? And collaborating with Two Are Better than One was a blessing.

I gaze over my office area, past the wood burning stove (the only heat source when I moved here). I installed a solar powered HVAC and water heating systems. Then I remembered the many rejections I printed and papered on my work area wall. I framed the last one, that sits on my old desk. “Lest we forget…” I startled, not intending to say it aloud, Voithos responds, “Acknowledged.”

img_1869 img_1862And to think, I did all of that while working a ranch, daily horseback riding – for leisure, traveling, hanging out with friends, cruising all over the globe with the gang and my offspring who now fly in from all over.

Thankfully my sons and daughters-in-law served more than their fair share in the military and public service so their grand kids aren’t subject to TDY assignments or the terrorist threats we all endured.

I reflect upon the happy years that followed, blogging about my stays around the globe. I met up with Lisa and her gang, Jacqueline, Mitch, J.Gi, Diane, David, Michelle, MescaAmir, Christi, and so many other great friends in the blogging community (what parties those were)! Traveling has certainly been more peaceful since Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia all made nice and the U.S. got out of their business!

How often I once dreamed of this life, and now it’s hard to remember the long, hard nights working. But I recall when the results finally took off. And now, with the wonderful people I’ve met in along the way, it’s hard to believe I ever felt lonely for someone, anyone to remind me life is worth living. God forbid I ever forget.

I must have dozed. What was I thinking? No matter, I’m breathing. “Voithos, start a new chapter, date 2023 November 22, draft title JFK-CSL. ‘With the years of memories I’ve collected, and some considerable loss… [I pause to rethink]’ ”

Voithos softly interrupts, “Roo, Roan is calling. Do you wish to answer or shall I intercept?” I sigh happily, saying, “Voithos, answer now. Hello, this is Roo.” [Momentary silence]… “Voithos, Increase outgoing volume. Hello, this is Roo.” like Roan doesn’t already see me in her holographic monitor. She looks too thin… “Hey…” Roan says with that confused tone I know so well. I wonder, who forgot what. I respond with our usual reply, “Hay hell, you’re old enough for oats.”

Suddenly I realize we had talked about letting the Jeep drive us to the Gorge – today – and her plane from Galveston departs in minutes.

I think, this must be what heaven will be like.

My foot rolling onto the cold, concrete floor shocks me into reality – I actually had been dreaming – a wonderful dream.

Wait, “Is that a trumpet I hear…**”

 

**“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 (NIV)

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Filed under The World According to Roo, Writing and Blogging

Two Lights Are Better

After blogging for a few months I am delighted to have met Michelle Malone, a fellow blogger, and WordPress, Writing classmate. She writes with such candor and sincerity, I began following her blog immediately. While I didn’t initially notice Michelle is a Middle School Assistant Principal, I immediately noticed an innate wisdom about her writing.

Among many of her sensitive, enlightening posts, her recent Fear of the Unknown story especially piqued my interest.

I’m a grandmother, a freelance writer and a very humble blogger, but teaching is not one of my gifts. This revelation came to me after volunteering as a teacher’s aide in a private parochial school, and then getting to know a few teachers personally. Therefore I have the utmost respect for educators.

Fortunately for us all, my son’s remedial reading teacher changed his scholastic course. I think of Michelle often when conversing with my now grown son. Because of a single one teacher his academic career turned around that year and he went on with the rest of his class.

This year, in Fear of the Unknown, Michelle writes in eloquent detail about the “Start of the Beginning.” She describes it as “a joint professional development day between our two schools. It was my sneaky way of getting our teachers to connect and build what I hope will be a lasting partnership with teachers in our feeder system.”

In Michelle’s words:

“My greatest struggles and greatest joys are centered around relationships — the desire to build and refine them, but also to repair and resuscitate those in peril. I have not ended any (in my recollection); instead I have tried to repurpose a few for the sake of a peaceful mind and a desire to live a life of exclusivity.”

“In my current role, I primarily work with teachers, students, and parents. Though my response to various issues today differs from my response to some of the same issues over 20 years ago, I’ve noticed that the problems are essentially the same.  Parents do their best to raise respectful children, and they send us their best to nurture and to grow little people into big people who will one day rule the world we live in.”

“One of the myriad challenges we face, however, is a world that values professional athletes more than educators.  When was the last time you stood in line to buy your favorite teacher’s jersey or watched new teachers get drafted on national TV? The answer is NEVER. We don’t need that kind of pomp and circumstance, but we do need to be recognized and regarded as sowers who plant and nurture seeds each year that have the potential to grow into scientists, attorneys, prima ballerinas, designers, and our course — teachers. We need more teachers to continue sowing seeds so that there is never a fallow period in education.”

“I love it when my former students find me on Facebook and tell me what a difference I’ve made in their lives. That’s the reward for the sacrifices, the late night grading, and the second job to make ends meet.”

“I’m humbled when a parent says thank you for “doing what’s best for kids” when she knows that her kid didn’t always do his best. That’s the reward for foul language, temper tantrums, back-to-school nights, and after school help.”

“I’m honored when my former charges become teachers too.  That’s the reward for being a role model (whether I wanted to or not), planning field trips, and selling tons of World’s Famous Chocolates to fund those trips.”

“Ultimately, I’m grateful for the chance to make a small difference in the lives of others and to wake up each day and be granted that opportunity once again.”

In my experience, dedicated, committed people like Michelle and my sons’ teachers change lives in positively unforgettable ways.

Michelle and I are both new to blogging, and we fearlessly put ourselves and our stories out there in the hope of lifting, encouraging others.

About blogging, Michelle says:

“When I started blogging on All Saints Day, I never expected to meet a kindred spirit, but I did.  I met E.V.A. Lambert, author of What’s Next as I began reading posts from peers in my Writing 101 class. I confess that I quickly read through many of the posts, but there are a few that have piqued my interest, and I just can’t start my day without seeing what’s next!”

“Judging from her recent comment on one of my posts, I think she gets me too:  

“I barely know you, only met you this week, but I feel like you’re my new best friend.”

“Guess what, Roo — I feel the same way too.”  

We are both so glad God allowed our paths to cross on this gridlocked cyber super highway. We’re living proof that he’ll find us wherever we are and give us what we need.

I agree with Michelle that we are indeed on the right track . I hope together we help light this world up.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor”- Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NKJV) *

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 (NLT) **

*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

**Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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Another Unforgettable Day

ZnD Engagement photo

Among the days a mother never forgets, Homecoming Day, the moment her sons’ feet touch native soil again ranks at the top of the list.

I deeply appreciate the comments and private messages to my One Unforgettable Day post, especially those from people who are only getting to know me. I sometimes wonder if today’s American culture overlooks the genuine sacrifices the entire families of our Military Personnel, Law Enforcement Officers, First Responders and their Technical Support Teams (the most unsung, every day heroes) make on behalf of the common good.

I barely mentioned the rest of the story that began with One Unforgettable Day in a recent exchange:

Michelle Malone dot org: “The connection a mother has to her children can’t be aptly described in words. I offer you my heartfelt prayers, and I applaud your transparency.”

What’s Next.Wordpress.org: “Thank you. …My first son shipped out for the gulf coast as Nathan arrived at Fort Sam Houston for orthopedic reconstruction. [About eleven months later], Nate redeployed to Iraq to finish that tour. He’ll tell you he had to try to find the half of his foot he lost there. Nathan and Iain criss-crossed again; returning stateside unharmed. Since then, Nate served another tour in Iraq, came home to marry. Weeks after the wedding he deployed on another tour of duty in Korea. With 2014 came another tour in Afghanistan. Still in active duty, Nathan now trains our men and women <strong>stateside</strong> so he and is wife (retired, Army 2010) are raising their two children together. Iain recently retired from the Navy [so he’s no longer subject to recall]. He is a firefighter/paramedic, married to a firefighter/paramedic, they have two children together.”

 

"Nathan" and "Iain" as boots

“Nathan” and “Iain” long, long ago.

Neither Iain nor Nathan consider themselves heroes, although throughout their military careers their jobs frequently put them in harm’s way. Iain continues the work he trained for in the Navy and obtained his paramedic credentials in the private sector. Despite tours of duty in several hostile environments, they both sincerely believe they’re “just doin’ their jobs.”

The Army moved Nathan around in different specialties, thoroughly training him in each capacity, so that he likely has the combined education equivalent of a doctorate degree. Having completed two bachelor degrees, he’s literally too busy doing his job and supporting his family to continue formal education.

 

 

 

"Mr. & Mrs. Iain"

“Mr. & Mrs. Iain”

My sons come from a long line of military, law enforcement and technical services. I wish I had access to compile an album of my family’s service-related photos today. Prints of my grandfathers, my father, uncles and most of my brothers are literally out of my reach. Even if I come across as a bumptious old pest, I think we earned our bragging rights.

 

 

"Iain" (left) and his team mate at work

“Iain” (left) and his team mate after diver training.

"Iain" Volunteering

“Iain” Volunteering

"Nathan" (left) 2014

“Nathan” (left) 2014

"Nathan" teaching

“Nathan” teaching

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My Circus, My Monkey

If you haven’t discovered Michelle Malone yet, I recommend you take a look. A Middle School Assistant Principal, she helps humans at their most influential stage of life – your basic everyday hero.

Michelle’s article, I Got 99 Problems got me thinking about my circus.

Gabriela Kucerova orangutang

Most times I enjoy being me. I’ve literally worked hard toward that goal. Typically I’m a better person interacting with the wonderful beings around me. Occasionally, not so much. In my particular circus, my area of responsibility, I am learning to own my feelings as they happen – without derailing.

You probably don’t go through a wide spectrum of changes like I do, often minute-to-minute depending upon prevalent events or circumstances. Still, I empathize with those who do. Suddenly the senior member of our household, my feelings are a troublesome monkey.

Throughout my early years, how I felt was literally the least of my concerns. I deliberately emulated Mr. Spock’s logic (okay, mostly my dad’s). Like most everything else, that’s fine as long as it’s in moderation. Yeah, balance was never my strong suit.

Somewhat recently I realized I sometimes made my life harder, more complicated than it had to be, dismissing or at the very least minimizing my emotions. I sometimes shot myself in the foot for the greater good, excluding myself from equations, mostly because I didn’t trust my feelings.

After years of considerable self-restoration work, I am now more aware how my feelings influence my attitude and my choices. While I’ve learned to not sacrifice my legitimate needs, my feelings sometimes seem puerile and confusing. I’m becoming okay feeling silly sometimes.

So, being comparatively new at owning my feelings, in the moment when they happen, my heart should be in prime condition for all the ups and downs, lifts and crashes I experience. Whether we are in a hormonal influx, under intense personal pressure, or bearing the weight of life’s milestones, our feelings (including mine) matter to God, so they must matter to each of us.

Thank God my circus is marvelous, lively and mostly entertaining. I usually enjoy all the monkeys and how they interact with each other; the sweet ones, the lively ones, the dramatic ones and the hurt or broken ones. Even though I don’t always recognize my monkey immediately, I can cage them when I need to.

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One Unforgettable Day

As the morning light crept across the floor I noticed black, wavy hair had already collected under the dining table. I took the Swiffer from the broom closet and wiped the floor from the front room carpet to the back door – again. As I tossed the sheet, fluffy with dog hair into the waste basket Hopi, our black, Golden-Aussie dog trotted into the room and stopped. She sensed my anxiety and studied me closely. 
 
I clicked my tongue and extended my hand toward her. She came near and sat beside me, leaning on me. I stroked her head as if doing so comforted her more than me. Hopi somehow knew what we all felt – something was not right. Nobody wanted to think about it. But we all felt it.
 
It was Tuesday, April 14, 2003. My second son deployed for Iraq on His grandpa’s birthday the end of February. By the second week of March, Nathan was able to send short emails every day or so. He phoned a couple of times, briefly reporting that he and his men were all good. But it had been almost two weeks since anyone heard from him.
 
Now, looking through the doorway to the computer monitor across the room, I saw the screensaver still undisturbed – no new email. Unable to sleep I’d gotten up and busied myself by cleaning the house hours before. Exhausted, but restless, I still needed to do something. I reluctantly said, “Walk?” Hopi stood, tail sweeping high and wide as she trotted across the room to take her leash in her mouth from the doorknob, carried it back to me and stood expectantly. Her eyes fixed on me, watching closely.
 
“Good morning.” Kerry called from the far side of the office.
 
“Hey, good morning.” I called back. 
 
The phone rang, startling us all. I spun on my heel, reaching for the handset on the table next to me, sucked in a deep breath and pressed the button. Hopi sat when she saw my shoulders droop slightly. Instead of the static-laced, overseas connection I’d hoped for, the recorded telemarketer squawked for a moment before I hung up. I heard Kerry sigh loudly as he hung up the handset in the office at the same time. Something had to give.
 
I took the leash from Hopi and she trotted before me a few feet toward the front door. As I passed the office doorway, Kerry leaned around his computer monitor, smiling at me – my sunshine. I paused hoping to not see any trace of concern which would increase mine. “Telemarketer” I reported already forgetting we’d both answered our handsets at the same time. We each considered something pleasant to say, but settled for silent smiles.
 
“We’re going to get some fresh air. You want to take a break?” I asked him.
 
“I tossed the ball for her when I got back from the depot. I want to try to finish this by eleven.” nodding to his screen while studying my face. He’d taken my fourth son Quinn to the train so I could stay by the phone. I nodded. Work was good and a healthy distraction. I had surrendered working on my manuscript for the more immediate gratification I get from cleaning.
 
“I need to walk” I reiterated.
 
He agreed, “It’ll do you good, Honey” still watching the doorway. We both sighed, waiting. I wondered if he too could practically see the apprehension in the air. With another sigh I started toward the door. Walking down the hall I lifted my coat from the hook, pulling it on. The newspaper clipping with the names of the troops already k.i.a., taped to the wall fluttered as we passed. The moments seemed longer, each step taking greater effort. At the door I pushed one hand through the sleeve, turned the doorknob with the other and then zipped the coat closed.
 
Stepping outside, Hopi right behind me, I stretched my arms up and then bent down to touch my shoes, amazed at the effort it took. Hopi sat waiting for me to click her leash onto her harness. It’s strange how I didn’t notice the harsh Chicago weather for the last week – it simply didn’t matter to me. Instead I imagined my son and his company finding relief from the average 80 degrees in Baghdad. Closing the door behind us, Hopi and I crossed the street to the park. 
 
As we walked the length of the block I envisioned Nathan and the company playing volleyball in the Iraqi sand, blowing off some steam. Then I realized they would be doing so in combat boots and battle dress uniforms. Scratch that thought. We were almost back where we’d started. I envied Hopi walking calmly, happily alongside me, her breathing slowing steadily.
 
“Hey!” I called, as though Kerry hadn’t heard us banging the storm door coming in. Anticipating I’d ask if there was any news, (like he wouldn’t have found me had there been), he called out, “Hi Babe.” And then, “Nothing yet.”
 
As if someone pulled my plug, my energy drained, exhaustion set in. The fact is, I hadn’t really slept other than brief cat naps for days. Before sunup I’d poured a cup of coffee, realized I’d already finished two, and then I poured it back into the pot. Feeling lost, I mechanically wiped the counters with a towel and then went to the table before I realized I had done that before sweeping. I reflected upon how the bursts of phone calls from friends at church and the rest of my family in other states kept me going like they hadn’t in years.
 
I sat down at the table. A moment later I rose, and stepped to my computer in the office again. Checking my email gave me no relief. I began to key whatever words came to mind: worry, fear, trepidation, war, danger, Nathan, please call or write. After a few more sentences that made no sense I took the keyboard from my lap and set it back on the desk. I stood, announcing more to the air than to Kerry that I was going downstairs. Kerry silently followed me with his eyes. He could see what I felt. There was nothing more to say. He nodded and went back to keying.
 
I started the washer and then realized there was nothing for me to put into it. I turned it off again and began washing the lid and the surfaces. While I wanted to think about times past, wiping grass and dirt from the top of the machine during little league seasons, I shook it off to keep my head in the present. This should not be so hard after raising four sons. But this was different from all his previous tours, even Bosnia-Herzegovina. Everything changed on September 11, 2001.
 
I walked back up the stairs, instantly recognizing the pronounced difference in the atmosphere. Kerry had stopped and stood in the doorway on his way out of the office. “She is right here” he said into the phone. Locking his eyes with mine, assuring me he was not moving, he handed the phone to me. Confused that I hadn’t heard it ring, something else struck a very flat, discomforting chord in me. I thought I felt a shock race from my hand to my feet and back as I raised the phone to my ear. 
 
 
“Hey Mom.” It is Nathan’s weary, reserved voice. But he doesn’t say Ma’am, as he has for some 15 years. The suppressed dread that had been stagnating for days, exploded.
I struggle to speak, “Oh, Nate…” 
“Listen Mom. I’m okay…” time slows. I recognize his voice is controlled – eerily, too controlled. I feel it  – I know what is coming. 
“Uh… I took a hit, Mom…” Again, not Ma’am.
I gasp, but no air flowed in. I glance up to see Kerry hiding his face behind his hands, his chest wretches. I must keep my focus on Nathan. I manage a quick breath.
“You are going to be alright, Natty…” I instinctively use the pet name I called him as a toddler that comforted him when he was sick or sad.
“I am, Mom.” The last time I heard fear in that voice was long ago, but louder than his voice, it screamed at me, mocked me now. I feel like someone shoved a wide blade in my diaphragm. I do not imagine fear in my son’s voice. Talking to his mom, it is real. The gravity sinks in, pushing that blade deeper. I pull myself tight, every muscle hard. Deep inside I find words, 
“I’m right here Natty. I’m not going anywhere. You can tell me. It’s okay.” I want to breathe, but I can’t risk drowning out his voice. He sounds strangely apologetic, 
“I’m gonna be okay, but I’m pretty messed up right now.”
He stammered slightly, “I – uh, Ma’am, my leg’s in a few pieces, an’ my boots are tore up…” 
This is not his usual precise speech, his carefully chosen words. This casual, slurred language coming from my uber-disciplined soldier son is dispersing my last shred of hope. This nightmare is real. I silently bare down again and shove,
“It’s okay, Natty. You’re going to be just fine. I know it. God’s not done with you yet.”
“Uh, roger that, Ma’am,” his familiar tone returns. He continues, “I was in full body armor, so I was pretty much covered, I’m not sure about my junk…” I heard someone very close to his head say, “The family is secure, Sarge. There are a couple of pieces of shrapnel in your glutes. Repeat, Sarge, the family is secure.” 
I hear Nathan acknowledge the corpsman, and goes on telling me, 
“…but shrapnel tore through my other hand. This awesome corpsman offered me his phone so I called you. Uh. I’m gonna be okay Ma’am.”
“I know you are, Son. Where are you now?” 
I am not surprised to hear him reply immediately, “Ma’am, I’m in a field hospital not far from Baghdad on Highway 8. They’re going to transport me to Landstuhl pretty quick here. And hey Ma’am…” 
I can hear a corpsman assuring him. I feel Kerry’s hands gently rest on my shoulders, now aware he is praying.
“Nate, good men have you now and I won’t stop praying until I can kiss your face.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I know you will and I appreciate… Hey Mom, I’m real good an’ uh, I love you Mom.”
“I love you Natty. I always will.” I could hear him breathe calmly, deeply. I said softly, “I will see you real soon.”
He quietly agreed, “Oh, yes Ma’am.”
And now I hear nothing.
My instincts had been spot-on again. I stand frozen. Silent. Time stops. I do not feel. I do not think. I can not allow myself to feel.

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Beautiful Brother and the Beast – Assignment 13

Although I am not gifted with poetry, assignment thirteen was fun for me. More inclined toward prose, I practiced short subjects emailing my first son while he was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom with the Navy. Messages had to be 50 words or less. Today my bull’s eye is 100 words. I’m okay with hitting the outside of the spot.

 

2014-05-09 09.13.20

I was too young.
Too young to comprehend.

I took you into my heart,
my brother, my child.
The void never closed after you left,
And you overfilled it when you returned.

 

wolf woodsI was too old.
Had no place of my own.
I took you into my heart,
my brother, my friend.
Our time here passed so very fast.
Dear God, can we all be together again soon.

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Just For Fun

Last night I cleared my head, and then read the BU class 12th assignment post carefully. Many books and articles sprang to mind. Too many. After a long while, I decided I would sleep on it and write on the first story that came to mind in the morning. I turned on the DVR, which is my sleeping pill, set the timer and then nodded away. I’m almost sorry, but here goes.

My first thought this morning was a dear, old friend and I having a sleep-over. First off, one is never too old for a sleep over. That night, rather than exploring the local art or entertainment scenes as we typically did, for the first time ever we explored something new to us, television.

In the short version of this story, after an hour or so, we stopped on some stunning scenery that quickly pulled us into the story. We watched, paused, critiqued, questioned and chatted on-and-off through four episodes of the reboot series, Hawaii five-O. Maura being a seasoned world traveler, and me a fan of whodunits, we happily remember that unusual, fun night.

 

hawaii

 

Six seasons later I save four recordings of the show to view in order much later on. While there’s ample eye candy for every taste, I mostly swoon over the shoreline and the mountain scenes – maybe I am getting old. I typically reflect upon memories as a fifteen-year-old, recently transplanted in Southern California. In 1968 I dreamed of someday having a social life and surfing, while I planted myself in front of the television every week, taking in Hawaii – as seen through Hollywood.

Fast forward six seasons of Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim, Masi Oka and now Jorge Garcia (remember Jorge and Daniel from Lost?). While I still enjoy stunning videography, I now also have fun shooting holes through the technical details. I adore and utilize the pause and replay buttons.

While the stories are entertaining, with the quirky mix of heroic characters, all set in some of the most beautiful scenery, this inquiring mind has some questions. Take for instance, the typical scenario where the team locates the villain-du-jour on the opposite side of the island from headquarters – with many miles and lots of traffic between them and the Five-O team. With scant moments to apprehend the bad guy before his horrible plan erupts, our heroes always burst on the scene, usually with lots of screeching tires on pristine muscle cars, impressive athletics, gunfire from seemingly terrible shooters (yet bystanders are not hit), and something explodes into colorful flames. Before the gang saved the day and then chides one another playfully, I can’t help but wonder if anyone else notices how only the core Five-O team infiltrates and takes down the bad guys as though they are the only law enforcement officers on the islands.

Besides, it doesn’t seem like Five-O without someone saying, “Book ’em, Dano” every week.

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Catch Up Over Coffee

While I adore the idea of meeting up with you all, I’m too much of a realist. We’d have to meet somewhere public and I don’t know my new area well enough to know some wonderful, quirky place with superior food and drink to meet yet. I will have to arrange to have one of the cars, which doesn’t always happen on anyone else’s schedule easily. Face it, we’d settle on texting photos, on our coffee breaks. Still, anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is welcome to come by. Call first, of course!

So, since we’re planning this date to share coffee together in the not-too-distant future, I can get to the local Starbuck’s which is now also Teavana – yeay! You are most likely aware I cut myself off of any form of caffeine and processed sugar after ten-ish. So tea, especially herbal blends are kind of a big deal in my world. That way you don’t wonder if I’m not a gremlin after midnight, manning the captain’s chair inside the head of a robotic costume.

I don’t give a care about what cups they’re serving around their beverages, I don’t frequent non-fair trade coffee shops enough that I feel any guilt or remorse (again, walking distance), and the atmosphere is almost always pleasant. Not only that, if we embarrass or offend anyone there, no one there will ever recognize us again. Besides, being new in the community and far from other friends and family, my speaking skills need remarkable warming up before conversing. You get to start!

Josey tea Carli Jean

While we share tea together I’ll be delighted to hear what’s new since the last time we talked (Skyped, whatever). I’ve learned (finally) that listening is actually more important than talking, or entertaining as I tend to do. While I have become adept at systematically changing names to protect the innocent in my stories, many of my dialogues and short stories come from simply listening to the people around me – with a little splash of creative drama now and then, just to make it interesting. Besides, I am literally so weary of my story where it is right now, I’ve been writing it in the first person the way I thought it would go starting two years back. It still sucks at times, but I feel better a lot more often in my fiction.

While we share tea together we’ll go over the last week’s global events and the news from each other’s localities. Getting trapped behind my side of my nose makes me forget the many different perspectives on the other side – your side of my nose. What’s more, the world isn’t quite as frightening on your side of my nose as it is in here! Over drinks together we get a better grasp of reality, examine truth for what it is and find better balance in the world today. As Ellen (you remember meeting her) used to say, “we must get together and talk through the world’s problems, fixing it all over a pot of tea (or a bottle of wine) soon. Balance. It’s all about balance in all things and one simply can’t do it alone.

While we share tea together I’ll torture you with the details of building my blog, the amazing things I’m learning about the mechanics of WordPress, the people I meet and the fun I’m having taking the Blogging U. classes. I’ll pester you for ideas to write about and how to promote myself where I haven’t already. We won’t talk about that episode last spring when I put into action a clever promotional idea, but the officer thought I was soliciting. I played the Grandmother card and he let me go. Whatever…

While we share tea together we’ll discuss the latest fitness challenges I’ve tried out and diet discoveries have come to light since our last visit. Surely something there will help me shed another five pounds so I’ll be back to normal body weight six months after I start lifting and boxing again. If I’m still breathing, of course.

While we share tea together I’ll tell you the actual discoveries I tried and work well for me in my overall health care (like coconut oil), especially during the last bout with cancer – ugh. It’s all gone and all good now, “… I said, knowing I gained five pounds the last six weeks. (The physical therapist ordered me to not walk every day). I couldn’t believe she was serious about that until I popped one of the sutures in my calf going down the stair too fast. Note, it was only one stitch.”

While we share tea together I can tell you the secrets to spotting poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. I never heard of the latter either until I Googled homeopathic treatments, not wanting steroids. I can also advise you (after my second contact – they actually are bigger in Texas) how to treat the rash before it spreads – take the steroids. The End.

While we share tea together I’ll only be dull a few minutes boasting about my thirteen adorable, amazing grand kids, my marvelous sons and my heroic daughters-in-love. I promise only to show photos from my phone if you ask. And you know better than to ask just to be polite.

While we share tea together I’ll tell you the wonderful, interesting new ways I’ve learned to meet new people in Texas (not counting that soliciting thing). We’ll probably even touch on how I found the best church home (third time was the charm). You will be amazed that I’m not on the Worship Team and remember that’s where I served primarily for the last thirty years. We’ll talk about the good old days and we’ll look forward to what’s coming up ahead.

I’ll bet you can hardly wait. Hey! Where are you running so fast?

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Chatting Over Tea

So far, most of my readers are my good friends from all over the country. As most of my new friends/readers have gathered, my life took me all over the continental U.S. over the past thirty years. Although I manage to circle around, the past eight years my circles have been loops.

I’m especially blessed to count seven close, dear “best” friends; people with common values I can say anything with and never fear being judged or offending with a misstated word. While we keep in touch pretty well by phone, Skype, social media, email, texts and even old-school, greeting cards, handwritten (or printed) letters and printed photos, we haven’t been able to get together, not even for the kids’ weddings.

For a year I’ve poured myself into my blog. It’s working better for me than losing hours on Facebook and its many entertaining diversions. Still, my last long trip was two years ago for one Spice Girlfriend’s wedding.

I often imagine the surge of information we’d exchange over a steamy cup of something lovely. I’d finally be able to tell them about my latest roller coaster ride; the things one simply doesn’t say over the phone.

Take for instance one friend in particular that I’ve known since she was home schooling her children at elementary level, and some were in High School. She would be my first subject, only because I actually saw her last.

I can imagine her flying into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, exhausted, pouring her into our guest room bed, resting a few hours and then sharing coffee or tea on my balcony…

Josey coffee Annie Spratt

Me: Good morning! You look wonderful.

Josey (dressed and refreshed, steps through the french doors onto the balcony to find me just sitting down with a tray of tea and scones): “Thank you. I have a little jet lag. I’m wide awake but I think my brain is still in Washington. (Josey sits and reaches for a scone as I pour tea,) You start bringing me up to date and I’ll jump in with questions when I need to. These are such good scones, I don’t even feel bad for sleeping in and not helping you. You can send me the recipe. Go ahead while I munch.”

Me: “I know what you mean. Trying to sleep last night I thought about how we used to compare our lives to a long, cross country tour of famous roller coasters.”
“This stop’s been very different from all rest. Living with this part of my core family, far from my kids, no one would have imagined how hard it would be for all three of us, pulling our lives together – together.”
“You probably remember Roan from before her divorce, when we were so close. She’s so different now, you’ll hardly recognize her – I rarely recognize her. We’re three entirely different people compared to who we were ten years ago – the last time we all lived together in Finley. That year before I moved back from Illinois, we planned the next few years down to every minute detail we could imagine. We tried including any unexpected twists and turns. But this train seemed to have derailed last March.”

Josey: “I know what you mean. Sometimes I wonder how my life became so different from what I ever thought it would be.”

Me: “Does it ever blow you away how all three of us, you, Roan and I all separated from our husbands within the same 4 months? Even when I don’t text you, you know that you and the kids are all in my prayers – mostly daily. But how’re they adjusting to all the changes since the last move to Finley?”

Josey: “Oh they’re fine as far as I can see – now that they’re all grown and on their own…”

Me: “That’s as good as we can expect, I imagine.

Josey: “I know what you mean about building a new nest while living with siblings. And you, my friend already experienced losing a sibling to death, the first to leave this world. I can only imagine.”

Me: “And yet, we depended on Seagh in ways none of us realized till he was gone. His passing while he was so young actually was unimaginable. Although he was my kid brother – he was the wisest of us all. He earned all of our trust – said nobody else in our family, ever. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember you never met him.”

Josey: “True. And yet as close as you and I are, you’ve still never met my mom or my sister.”

Me: “Right.”
“Seagh wasn’t often gentle, like your mom, but he had a knack for knowing when the fur flies in our home to either leave the building, whistle loudly, or stand tall, staring blankly into the midst of the fray. He’d do that until we each noticed what he was doing and stopped – whatever. Then he’s say something remarkable, like, “So, where will you bury the body?”

We both laugh at the scene.

Me: “Lord, how I miss laughing at ourselves when he did that.”

Josey: “I can well imagine.”

Me: “The blog and my two manuscripts have helped me through the past year. So now, we’ve about hammered most of our kinks out. Opal living with her mother and me again now adds just the right amount of salt to the mix. We hated the apartment, so we bit the bullet and moved into this townhouse mostly because of this balcony. You remember when I’ve seen worse.”

Josey nods, saying only, “St. John Street,” Referring to the house she helped me renovate and move into years ago.

We both laugh again at the thought of the ramshackle house when my husband and I first bought it.

Me: “Thank you so much for reminding me! That is a great post for The Apex. Don’t you think?”

Josey nods in agreement as she sips thoughtfully.

Me: “I’d slant it toward the healing journey in general, both the house and me.”

We sit quietly for a comfortable pause as I pencil into my ever ready wire-bound tablet to remind me of the idea.

Josey: “Coming in I noticed how we’re walking distance from almost everything you need.”

Me: “It’s certainly a perk since I gave away my Chevy and salvaged my mini van just before I left Illinois. Oh, but running the girls around the Lakes in that van was fun. And to think, I bought it thinking mainly about the grand kids.”

Josey: “Yes. The notes you posted to Facebook about the retreats and road trips were very good. I enjoyed them as though I’d been along for the rides. I also noticed you publish a lot more since you linked your blog to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.” She smiled sincerely.

Me: “With everything so close, we manage to get by, the three of us sharing the two, well one and a quarter cars (ha ha ha). With her new job, Opal will replace her car soon. In the worst case scenario I go to church on line in my room. I trust I’ll pick up some more copywriting assignments soon and tuck that money away for another, more reliable, economical car. Now that I’m cancer free I’ll have the doctors paid off by the end of next year.” I sigh and smile feebly.

Josey: Raises both arms, palms up, saying: “Thank You, God.” I join her in the praise.

Me: “Sure, sometimes I get bogged down beneath all the trials, expenses and so little money coming in. Mostly over the grieving process – times three.
“Seriously, I think the hardest part of starting all over again is the finances; not being able to travel – yet – to see the grandkids. You well know, they don’t stay little for long and they forget so soon.”

Josey: “That’s why I’m glad you took Gilley’s advice and started your blog. Next thing we know you’ll submit one of your manuscripts. Who knows, maybe we’ll create an app to put our stories out there. I read that’s the up-and-coming-medium. It would be today’s spin of her Gilley’s first book.”

Me: “Sure. Maybe you’ll let me use some of your prose or poems. I think you might be just a little afraid you’d get caught up in blogging too.”

Josey: “I seriously don’t know when I’d find the time.”

Me: “No worries. Blogging U courses are so good, especially for connecting with other writers, artists, photographers, journalists bloggers – and even if only a small percent of your class offers to help you through a problem, that’s still a lot of help at your beck and call. You’d be schooling me at it in a few weeks. What’s more, the courses are free.”

Josey: “Go over your Categories for me again.”

Me: “Fine:

A Door Ajar: My stories illustrating some techniques I learned about relationships while I was pursuing my CPC; Boundaries, Anger Management and so on. The header: “Relationships are like doorways to our lives. When we close our doors fresh air, light and fresh perspectives don’t get in. Sometimes it’s best to leave the door ajar.”
Kitchen Sync: Foodies creating a better world from meager means. It all begins at home.
From the Apex: Enjoying the aging process from all perspectives.
The World According to Roo: Where I post my long reads
Blogging U: Where I compile my class assignments as I complete them. Maybe I’ll relocate some later on.

Josey: “I spend at least an hour catching up with you every other week.”

Me: “Feel free to comment any time. No, really. I approve or delete them all so you can’t embarrass me publicly – Hee Hee Hee!”

Josey: “I know. I didn’t realize I said that aloud.”

We laugh together and slip into comfortable quiet listening to the birds.

Feeling fatigue start to set in I suggest, “What do you think about taking a walk before these clouds get serious and rain?”

Josey: “Done.”

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Nature Walk

Sitting in my courtyard, I bask in the warm sunlight.

2015-04-19 18.48.30

I hear something barely audible scratch the wall six feet away, level with my face. I turn to see a bright green gecko hurrying its way across the wall. Gecko stops and seems to be looking into my eyes.

Gecko’s bright vermilion throat balloons and then deflates. As I watch, Gecko spins around to face the walkway, and then strangely, it spins back around, stopping with its face pointing directly at me again.

Fully into the scene, I begin to very slowly stand. Gecko also maneuvers even more slowly, and stops to point toward the walkway again. As if waiting for me as I step toward the walk, Gecko shoots across the wall about 12 inches, stops and then spins back around to face me yet again.

I continue slowly forward toward Gecko. He turns toward the walk again and then darts forward too, turns around the corner of the wall and vanishes behind a shrub.

Certain Nature is leading me into a dance, I begin down the walk and onto the street.

While I enjoy deep, invigorating breaths, a crow screeches from where he floats on the air just above and before me. Crow circles around me and slows in front of me again, as if willfully drawing my attention. I don’t speak crow. Crow doesn’t speak English. So, in fun I stretch my arms out widely as I continue walking along behind and below him. Crow circles again and glides a few feet up and in front of me as if enjoying the game, I run, he flies above and ahead.

As we approach a trail leading into the park, Crow banks left and I leave the trail to run after him up a grassy slope. Crow screeches, circling around and then glides directly ahead of me again. Enraptured by the moment, my arms still out from my sides, I quicken my pace back down the slope after him. Crow seems to hover in front of me and then he shoots upward.

Still running while watching Crow rocket effortlessly, suddenly the ground disappears from beneath me too. I feel the air holding me and I imagine I feel exactly what Crow feels.

Sudden, abrupt ouch!
Icy cold!
Wet!
Confusion!
Pain shoots up my legs – my feet slide out from below me, my rear and my hands splash into water, both slamming across slimy rocks lining the creek bed! What the…???

Soaked, I look up at the lower side of the bridge a good seven feet above me to my right, and further where I’d run off the grassy ledge moments before.

“Silly human” Crow chuckles as he flaps away over the trees.

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Filed under Latent Poetic Tendencies