Category Archives: Sky

Abrupt

stormI’m not sure which came first, his fear or mine.

We were standing there, his sweaty hand wrapped around my dry one, his head cocked slightly to the left as he began to lean in for our first kiss (to hell with his mother’s opinion of me).

Screams erupted behind us, just beyond the wooded path we had traveled moments before and we both jumped and screamed in response, the romantic moment totally wrecked of course.

These parts were known for creepy, unexplained happenings (like deaths and stuff), which is why we had chosen to come to this exact spot; we wanted to reenact one of the murders, minus the dying part of course, and it was all supposed to have started with a kiss.

Now we were totally freaked out and shaking—the only way back to the car blocked by the screaming—until a young naked, shrieking couple emerged, shivering and muddy; the sudden downpour having rudely interrupted their activities.

 

Five Sentence Fiction, of Lillie McFerrin fame, offered up “rain” as this week’s writing challenge. 

Lillie McFerrin Writes

New

My emotions have been fluctuating between total euphoria and abject fear lately. I am embracing change. This is to be expected; change is defined by its instability, its intriguing yet menacing nature, its inherent ability to simultaneously beckon and intimidate while working its black magic.

I have erected an imposing change-crane in the midst of a massive construction project called My Family. Prior to the crane, which is now working 24/7 to build a new infrastructure, I found fossils buried in the foundation. I might not have noticed them had I not become curious and begun exploring the landscape after a long period of ennui. Furiously digging as it became clear to me that all was not as it had seemed at the outset, I unearthed the long-buried treasures of passion, desire, metamorphosis, laughter and pure joy.

I quickly realized that the smooth, carefully calculated, surely laid base I had called Home, was in danger of eroding, imploding, caving in, or all three at once; if not immediately, then surely later. Living with the risk, though I had unwittingly been dealing with it for many years, was suddenly untenable. It was time for further excavation, and due to the urgency pressing against my sternum and the resonance of truth in my belly, it had to be swift and sure. Its immediacy became my new reality, even as I struggled to internalize the mass destruction I was endorsing with my selfish, singleminded reconstruction project. As Foreman, all the important decisions were mine. Even acknowledging my conscience as Construction Supervisor did not dissuade me.

Still the near-impossibility of successfully managing such a delicate undertaking was not lost on me, after all what archaeologist impatiently claws out treasures that have lain in the earth for aeons, treasures that in some cases have survived ferocious conditions, ancient battles? Nevertheless the required patience was obliterated by an incessantly urgent and loud beating; the pounding knowledge that it was “now or never.” In doing so, I had to acknowledge that speed over caution would necessitate some fallout, some less than ideal conditions in which to work. Nevertheless, like harmonious hammers flying, their steel heads landing perfectly on nail after nail in rapid succession, joining board to board to create something new, a tangible rhythm spurred me on and told me there was something fresh and beautiful in the making.

The permits have been secured, the foundation laid and the treasures protected. The bulldozers have been returned and the wrecking ball is now attached to the crane. The final vestiges of what once was will be mutilated with a few crushing blows and then the rebuilding will commence.

It would be easier to dismantle the ball and crane, to send the remaining crew home with their pay. It would be easier to simply display the unearthed treasures on a special shelf as a symbol of a past life or of dreams that were not meant to be. I am a practical soul though, and a firm believer that treasures are best when they serve a useful purpose. I also like to finish what I begin, though some would argue against my reasons and my methods for doing so.

Let the wrecking ball swing. Let this new life begin. I have decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Tomorrow is a New Moon.

Rest in sweet peace Susan Jeffers (author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and other publications).

Endeavour

The only activity worth doing last Friday was watching Endeavour, a friendly celebrity flying low (1500 feet) to greet adoring fans from near and far, travel the skies. I was moved beyond belief and expectation to tears; my emotions shuddering inside of me as the modified Boeing 747 and its precious shuttle-cargo passed overhead. A side shot would have been nice, but I settled for what I could get, and vowed to eventually buy a longer lens, since it would have been incredible to get orgasmically close (even via expensive glass) to the star-rubbing beast.

Since I seem to have lost my words lately, I am relying on an unedited poem from my past to convey the power and mystery of Friday’s historic moment:

3/11/97 – Inspired by Pablo Neruda, among other things…

Dragons

There are moments, like pregnant pauses
When white dragons rise to the surface
Unnoticed yet fully realized and threatening

Groaning like a half-eaten mouse
He knows only that he senses something
Her thick lips refuse to speak

Uttering inane phrases to engage his wit
And literary ploys to unnerve his instincts
She strengthens her resolve not to crumble

Smiling all the while at her power
She chases fear with sweet red wine
A most clever elixir of disharmony

Wild, wild woman, untamed by sweetness
Hard won by human beauty
She travels alone, sometimes lonely

Hunt, kill, hunt, kill, hunt, kill, hunt, kill
Smiling while laughing, she attacks
As if he doesn’t know he’s a victim

Ravenous soon after, she feeds in her sleep
On the ruination of the kill, the nourishment
That stokes the pang familiar

Angst rising in her haunches, she eludes the pain
Carrying on as if nothing has happened
To the pristine soul of the untainted girl

It is inapt to deliver wintry anger
Or unleash it in the very pleasure
That created it, two-faced monster

She cavorts demurely with eyes that
Tell one hundred stories, none of them true
All of them honest

She doesn’t belong here; stagnant
She doesn’t belong there; unworthy
Where? Where then?

Leaping toward the chasm, she lands
Hard but safe, alone yet aware
There is more to do than lick her wounds

No time to waste. Red soul is pleading
She must embrace the Scylla inside the wolf
Or risk the slow and painful death of apathy

But there are moments, like pregnant pauses
When white dragons bow their heads and moan
Defeated by love, a power no adversity can quench

Ego

Besides urgency, she feels
Eager, not anxious like she
Should when trying to please
Him, Great White Cloud

Confidence building inside her
Moist arms carrying, heart
Heaving and hefting, carefully
Pushing the gift in place

No thanks to come after
She stands beside a deluge
Worthy of singing, of dancing,
Wide eyes appraising now

Almost gloating like she
Did before the reminding
Torrent with its heavy-handed
Washing, its effortless erasing

This poem is in response to Randall David Tipton’s beautiful painting, coupled with the amazing poetry of Maureen Doallas, author of Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems. You may see both here

From Super Moon to Super Mom

Today I extend an enthusiastically warm welcome to my friend and writer-extrordinaire, Deborah Batterman, author of Shoes Hair Nails, and the new and timely, Because my name is mother. To her, and to every mother on the planet, Happy Mother’s Day!

And now let’s hear from Deborah…

Sometimes (probably more often than not) a kind of collective consciousness takes hold in the blogosphere. No sooner does someone post a photo of last week’s Super Moon when someone else is inspired to write something moon-related. I could easily wax poetic about my own fascination with the moon. Instead, I’ll relish the simple pleasure of being inspired by the photos of Britton Minor and her anything-but-jaded lens of a blog. I first encountered Britton via another site we both wrote for (smartly.com). The connection was instantaneous, the admiration about the ways in which we express our thoughts mutual. So when she sent me a photo to ponder (yes, a shot of the moon), as a way of initiating a collaboration, there was barely time for a second thought. Another photo followed, and another, until a sequence emerged, Britton’s photos/my text, all in the spirit of celebrating mothers.

A selfish woman says to her daughter, ‘Men will come and go but diamonds are forever.’
A selfless woman says to her daughter, ‘Diamonds may come and go, but a mother is forever.’
A wise woman says to her daughter, ‘Think of the cup as neither half-full nor half-empty.’

Deborah writes with warmth, humor and wisdom. Her collection of stories, Shoes Hair Nails, is one you will want to keep by the bed, in the car…anywhere you find yourself craving a satisfying read. If you’re like me, you’ll want to read them again. The short story format makes it perfect for a busy lifestyle. Shoes Hair Nails is also available as a Kindle edition (only $2.99), or in paperback ($6.99).

Purchase Because my name is mother, electronically for only .99!  This is a wonderful collection of mini-observations (not mini in their impact though) on the many facets of motherhood – a book that can be equally appreciated by a daughter.

Thank you, Deborah, for visiting today and for sharing – I hope you’ll come back!

 

Riding at Anchor

I am pondering the ironic fact that I felt less free over a decade ago while sailing over the Temecula Valley in a commercial hot air balloon than I did recently when I rose straight up over Orange County, California, in this tethered Great Park balloon.

I am reminded of another time I sailed through the air: when I careened off of a 30 ft. telephone pole as part of a team-building exercise. The atypical expletive I screamed as I jumped off the wavering wooden beast and toward the trapeze bar didn’t stop my epiphany: fear can be random and irrational. Yet fear was the last thing I had expected to feel. After all, no harm was in sight; I was harnessed and tethered. Yet “abject fear” barely defines what flooded my mind in the few moments that elapsed between climbing, standing, jumping, and gratefully connecting with that three-foot swinging bar.

Pondering fears–rational and irrational–inadvertently led me to the debate that exists between sailors who believe tethered harnesses should be the standard when sailing on the open seas, and those who don’t. Mobility and racing effectiveness are allegedly compromised when a sailor’s safety harness is tethered to  jacklines secured to the stern and bow. San Francisco and San Diego are both reeling from the recent deaths (rare occurrences in the sport) of several sailors, which has fired up ongoing concerns about sailing safety in general. Bryan Chong, a survivor of the San Francisco accident spoke up on the matter, standing clearly on the side of safety precautions that could have saved his crew mates and eliminated his horrific experience; one that he says was like being in a “washing machine with boulders.” Regarding not being tethered, Chong had this to say, “It’s simply a bad habit that formed due to a false sense of security in the ocean. It’s obvious to me now that I should have been clipped into the boat at every possible opportunity.”

Freedom creates a tantalizing fantasy that rarely considers viable dangers. Sometimes we act with wild abandon and we survive, thrive even. Other times we are left to clean up the aftermath of something we regret. There is a balance that involves weighing the risks – a “pros and cons” list we often make in our heads based on knowledge, experiences, beliefs, affinities, tolerance levels and more. It is complex and personal. This is a healthy process because we know ourselves best. But when we allow our fears to be tethered to our doubts, we are unlikely to sail toward our best dreams–the ones that bring us the most joy. Going adrift of total caution can be just what we need to spark an incredible journey.

So why did I feel more free in the tethered balloon? I have a fear of heights and a proclivity toward claustrophobia. Neither are a problem; they are mild in nature. But that day, the beauty of the Temecula Valley was obscured by my eagerness to land. The Great Park balloon on the other hand, is finite. It has a secure basket with a screen that prohibits falling out. There are openings that allow for photography, and behind the lens I was pursuing a passion that blotted out anything else. My fears were non-existent.  I was safe, and I was free.

My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones to the sea; weak solace in the fact that they died doing something they loved. Hindsight has everyone involved wishing these souls had been safely tethered. Though they would not have escaped fear, they surely would have cheated death.

Note: An anchor that is aweigh is one that has just begun to put weight onto the rope or chain by which it is being hauled up. And while this pulling up allows a ship to sail, the anchor sits ready for when it is needed again.

To “ride at anchor” is to be anchored.

photographs and thoughts are the creation and property of the author/photographer, Britton Minor

Ding-dong Ditch

My son admitted to a bit of “Ding-dong Ditch” the other day. I tried not to admonish too strongly–after all, it used to be one of my favorite illicit activities, and one that was relatively harmless. But I did tell him that it was not thoughtful, complete with reminders about how some people–older or infirm ones–have to work very hard just to respond to a rung bell. I saw the lightbulb moment in his eyes.

And then, the scared-Mommy thoughts surfaced: “What if some creep comes to the door, hunts them down, and grabs…” – or- “What if they don’t make it away from the door in time, and the grumpy, gun-toting dowager down the street decides to teach them a lesson, barely missing a foot, or an arm as she shoots, cackles (not all dowagers are dignified), and bangs the door?”

What makes our children stop and think about how they spend their time? Do each and every one of our lessons land somewhere inside of them, to be culled as needed–in time to keep them safe? I like this fantasy.

I also know reality–know that all too often our beloved children step out and into trouble before we can blink back our fearful tears.

“STOP!” I want to yell – “Ingest every single shred of wisdom I have heaped on you.”

“STOP!” I want to yell – “Don’t make the same mistakes I made.”

“STOP!” I tell myself. Then I take a deep breath (or five hundred) remember that I AM doing my level-and-not-so-level-headed best to help my children avoid the deepest potholes, and that there are plenty of other signs along the way–signs I hope they will heed.

Funny thing is…had I known all this before becoming a parent–how certain moments make you wish you hadn’t, because sometimes the worry and the pain seem unbearable-nothing could have stopped me from doing it anyway.