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Out with the Old, In with the… Old?

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It’s not quite the new year and already the Christmas decorations are gone! I used to wait until New Year’s Day while everyone else was watching football to tackle the chore of putting things away. This year, however, I just couldn’t wait to get things back to normal. It took me two days to pack up the festive adornment that won’t come back out again until after next Thanksgiving.  As every Christmas item was taken down, the same old stuff went back in place. The house began to feel normal again. I like our standard arrangement of furniture now that the tree is gone, and I like the fireplace free of stockings and the mantle with its old candlesticks instead of the nativity scene. Everything co-ordinates again – the colors, the textures, the balance. It just all fits!

My philosophy on home décor used to be the same as that popular phrase about a new year: “out with the old, in with the new”. Decorating was my thing! I would peruse “Better Homes and Gardens” and “House Beautiful” magazines, and frequent interior design stores to keep current on the latest colors and styles. Every couple of years the house would get a fresh new look in paint color and accessories. Occasionally, I’d find a new piece of furniture for here or there. Trendy! I wanted to be trendy!

But somewhere along the way, I decided I liked what I had, so why change it? My house began to fit me like a well-worn pair of sweatpants instead of designer jeans. It was comfortable – it IS comfortable!  I suppose though, that after 15 years of dusting over, under and around the prominent candlesticks on the mantle, it might be time to replace them—almost!

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Almost

In Light of Christmas

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They’re just children. The same children they are on any other day of the year.  But on Christmas, her sweetness seems sweeter and his delight, more delightful. I catch myself watching them more intently, memorizing their faces. Their smiles are bigger, and their eyes magically reflect the light of the twinkling tree. Their laughter is more melodic than the carols drifting softly through the air. When I force my eyes from my grandchildren, they immediately rest on my daughter. I remember her at their age. The sweetness and delight she possessed back then is still there, but now it’s more mature. Motherhood came naturally to her; it seems to have been her calling. I realize I see her with pride for the woman and mother she has become; who sits there, in the light of Christmas, watching her children and memorizing their faces.

PS – Happy Holidays to ALL my blogging friends!

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Calling

My In-Between Life

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I grew up an “in-between-er”. Not because of family order – there were only two of us, my sister and me – but because of where we lived. Our house was in the country, but not on a farm and just over half an hour from the nearest city.

I did not identify with city girls who strutted either uptown or downtown and seemed to know the difference. They tottered the sidewalk in shoes I could never have owned; my father would have somehow made me feel less of a person for wanting them, and I shudder to think what he might have done had I actually come home with a pair.

I wasn’t comfortable with farm girls either. I had no daily chores that required me to wake at dawn and find a bucket for feed or a basket for eggs. I never had to butcher my best friend. My summers didn’t include a harvest except to witness it. When the fields I passed to and from school every day began to sprout green, I couldn’t tell the difference between wheat and barley, but what did it matter? I was allergic to it all, anyway!

I must have spoken to my grandmother at some point in time about my “in-between-ness”. She was my favorite person to spend time with when I was young. I remember her telling me that in-between was simply the best place in the world to be. It was, after all, the place between yesterday and tomorrow, the place between hello and goodbye, and the place she most wanted me to be: between her arms.

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Strut

The Last Rose of Summer

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“‘Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone”

Out in my garden, this may or may not be the last rose of summer, but the droplets of rain from an early morning shower must think it is. They hang on as if there’s no place else they’d rather be!

“The Last Rose of Summer” is a poem by the Irish poet Thomas Moore. He wrote it in 1805 while staying at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland. He was also a singer, songwriter and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of “The Minstrel Boy”.

This is my response to today’s one-word prompt: Thorny. They may be hard to see, but the thorns are definitely there.

The Thrill is Gone

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My affair with coffee started in earnest during my working years. As an accountant, I was married to my desk. My computer and I could finish each other’s sentences. Week days were nothing but debits and credits and budgets, oh my!

To divert the monotony, I began to visit the break-room for coffee. One cup became two, two became three – you see where this is going? It used to be just a morning thing, then I decided why not drink coffee all day long? To make the infatuation even worse, my place of employment installed one of those fancy little machines where you could make whatever flavor you wanted! Mocha, Hazelnut, and Butter Pecan were my favorites! When I retired nearly five years ago, I’m sure the line item amount budgeted for coffee was significantly reduced.

Retirement came with considerable changes in routine, but the amount of coffee I drank was not one of them. I still spent hours on the computer, but instead of plugging numbers into spreadsheets, I would string words together to make a story or a poem. Coffee continued to be a reason to get up, take a break and refocus. My affair with coffee lived on!

Soon, I began to rely on coffee to co-author my writing. Some mornings, words awoke with the first cup and sometimes they didn’t appear until after the third. I was convinced there was a direct connection between the number of paragraphs on the page and the amount of coffee I consumed. I remember one chilly morning trying to come up with just the perfect word to fill the void in a poem I was working on. I struggled to find a compromise between the expected word and one with an abstract meaning. I lifted my cup and there it was, mingled in the black liquid magic! The perfect word! Would I have found it were it not for coffee?

Unfortunately, coffee and I will have to part ways! On a completely innocent visit to my doctor, he discovered the truth about my romance with caffeine. For assorted reasons, he suggested I drastically ease my fling with coffee or he wouldn’t allow it at all! Imagine my grief!

The good news is that we don’t have to break-up completely, coffee and me. We can still see each other two times a day. But now, when I go into the kitchen to drain the pot; when the last drop of motivation is in my cup, I wonder where I’ll find the words if they don’t show up before the cup is empty!

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Sympathy (because it is with great sympathy that I end my affair with coffee!)

A Rainbow Moon and a Deep Pink Sea

275770When I immerse myself in daydreams, what do I see? Beautiful visions! Creative words! Thoughts so endearing I am quite taken with myself! But can I turn those daydreams into writing? Almost never! Like the other day, for instance, I imagined the ocean wasn’t blue. It was maroon in the middle where it’s deep, gradually changing to rosy pink as it gets closer to shore, becoming lacy white fingers when it tickles the sand. The only other thoughts I had were of rainbow moons and puppies with white fur that sparkles. That’s it! That’s all I had! No way of tying the three together; just a rainbow moon, a deep pink sea and a puppy with white fur that sparkles! But stay tuned – I’ll keep working on it. You just never know what I might come up with!

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Immerse

Constructing Joy for the Holidays

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Construct

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My goal is the same every year: to construct an atmosphere in my home that family and friends find festive and cheerful for the holidays. Something different, something special. As I drag out the boxes of decorations and put up the tree, Christmas music drifts through the house. I spend hours putting each ornament in just the right spot on the tree. I make sure there is equal distance between the candles on the fireplace. I iron the stockings so they dangle perfectly from the mantle. There is color everywhere! Towards the end of the day, I find myself longing for normalcy. If my objective was cohesive style, I fear I have failed. I’m not sure I like what I see!

By the time I finish tweaking the decor, it is night. I fix my gaze on the sparkle of the tree; its lights are the only thing in the room with me besides darkness. Because no other sounds distract me, I can almost hear the frazzled thoughts as they leave my mind, like tiny bees taking nectar from a rose. Who cares if things aren’t perfect? I begin to think of the holidays as a book. During the day, I can open the book to all the merry, jolly, jumbled pages for the sake of the season. At night, I can close the book all together for the sake of my own peace of mind.

I find myself enchanted by the lights on the tree and I sense an atmosphere of festive joy. Hadn’t that been my goal all along?

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