Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

I might have seemed lost- seeing I haven't posted since the plowing match! But I haven't been. 2007 was a huge year for me. I managed to complete my first short story Ever and I actually enjoyed writing it. I've come to love the mornings, which I never have, not even when I was little. Jeff and I moved to a new apartment, to place full of light and space (though maybe, someday soon, we'll get to move to our own house). And well, I look forward to each day and how each day will be different in simple and homey ways and maybe in big ones and I'll get to see it all. If you've known me for awhile, then you'll know how I've always dreaded each day and how getting up in the morning and brushing my teeth was always a time of trying to push down desperate panic.

It's different now. 2007 has been my year of inward and yeah, outward change.

And this brings me to one of my new heros, EBB. EBB, I've just begun to read you, so I don't know you really well, but so far you're tremendous and if I had lived when you did, I might have set up a shrine and put fresh flowers everyday on its mantle, underneath your picture.  So here's my 21 century mantle:


Recognize her at all? Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I've just begun "Aurora Leigh" and despite the high "falutin'" language sometimes, I'm really into it. If you're not familiar with Aurora Leigh, it's a story about a woman creating a writing life for herself and writing(!) and the backlash she gets for it, even from her beloved. He does, however, in the end, recognize her for the great writer she is (thank God).  I think any woman trying to create a writing or creative life for herself, trying to follow her own inner voice, might think of reading this. True, it's Victorian but then again, people are people and this poem is pretty terrific. And it's supposed to be an encouraging story, despite its ups and downs and those who are learning to listen to themselves and their voice and their dreams, NEED THAT. 

So yes. Dear EBB, I hope these flowers work for you.

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Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.

How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.