Sunday Confessional: I’m no Nelson Mandela

Late this afternoon I finished reading John Carlin’s Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (later re-released as Invictus) and then took a walk around the neighborhood with Zippy and Emma. As we walked past the home with the enormous pickup truck parked in front, the enormous truck with a TRUMP / PENCE sticker in the window, I fought my daily urge to throw a brick through that window.

And then I remembered the magic Nelson Mandela wrought in South Africa. After being unjustly locked away in prison for twenty-seven years, Mandela’s heart and mind were still open wide. He paved the way for blacks and whites to reconcile their anger and their guilt so they could become one. One Team, One Country. He helped blacks and whites unite around the Springbok rugby team as it went on to win the World Cup in 1995. Over and over, Mandela’s instincts and generosity of spirit helped everyone, black and white, become their better selves. It’s an extraordinary story and book, and I highly recommend reading it.

It’s hard to admit that within minutes of finishing Playing the Enemy, I wanted to inflict my red-hot anger on the person who keeps that sticker on his truck. Instead, I’d like to keep in mind what Desmond Tutu’s friend said about the day South Africa united around the Springbok victory: “The great thing about everything good that has happened is that it can happen again.”

Time to cultivate my better self.

Sunday Confessional: I’m a slow learner

I’ve blogged before about people ghosting me when it comes to picking up free perennials from my yard. In fact, last fall’s episode turned into a huge, time-sucking disaster. After that debacle I vowed to only put plants out at the curb with a FREE sign on them and to let whatever happens happen.

So why did I reach out to the man who’d shown up last fall minutes late for those plants? Because he’d come all that way and left empty-handed (after someone from the neighborhood ended up taking the plants, I guess). But more importantly, I reached out because he seemed like a good guy in need of plants for the non-profit he started. So I texted him the other day and told him what I had available. He immediately replied that he was interested and that he could pick them up Sunday afternoon. He said, “I’ll text you.”

Sure, dude. Watch me age as I wait for that text.

This tortoise photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels seems a good representation of my current emotional state.

So here I am, again, with plants that need to be put in the ground soon. One garbage bag filled with Lamb’s Ear and another bag of Golden Yarrow and Russian Sage.

I’d ask if anyone reading this wants them, but we all know how that would play out.

Sunday Confessional: today I did a poor imitation of Superman

This morning I went out on the trails to run. I haven’t been out there in two weeks, in part because of the snow and rain-and-more-rain we’ve received. Muddy trails are no fun. But the last two days have been sunny and warm, and sure enough, once I got out there the trails were dry. That’s the good news.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

The bad news is that as I neared the end of my run and was on a slight downhill, I hooked a toe on a rock. The next thing I knew my arms were outstretched and I was soaring. Through the air and then on the ground where I slid across the dirt and rocks.

It all happened very quickly and my best guess is that I hit first with my left knee and then slid onto my right side. I lost a chunk of skin from the heel of my right hand. My right elbow is a mass of bloody scrapes. My right hip bone is scraped. My right thigh is scraped, but not bloody. Same for my stomach. I got dirt in my navel and my mouth.

My immediate reaction was to scream profanities. It all hurt SO MUCH. But when I stopped screaming, I realized I didn’t feel pain anywhere that wasn’t bleeding. In other words, I hadn’t jammed a shoulder or wrist. Even though it was the worst fall I’ve taken out there in a few years, it wasn’t too bad. I think adopting the Superman pose was key. That allowed me to slide along the ground in a bumpy imitation of a batter sliding into second base.

Still, I’m thinking that next time I run out in the open space I should wear a cape. Might stay afloat that way.

Sunday Confessional: I don’t care about Game of Thrones

So the final season of Game of Thrones starts tonight. My mate and my son just finished watching a recap in preparation for the first episode. Their excitement is palpable.

As for me? I’ve watched a total of maybe a couple hours over the years. Game of Thrones is not my cup o’ violence. However, if I happen to be walking through the room when Peter Dinklage’s character is onscreen I always stop to watch.

Photo credit HBO

Confession: I don’t even know his character’s name. And that’s okay by me.

Sunday Confessional: I’m living in a glass house

Most every time I see a Eurasion Collared-Dove in my feeder I think about how those doves are an invasive species that spread across the United States via the Bahamas. (And if I don’t think about that, I think about how they EAT SO MUCH and aren’t the brightest doves in the chandelier.) But mostly I think to myself “they’re not even supposed to be here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, today it hit me that I’m an invasive species, too! So I guess maybe I’m not the brightest dove, either.  *urp*

Sunday Confessional: I’m not liking the “now” all that much

It’s Sunday evening.
It’s February.
And it’s cold, gray, and snowing.
The entire landscape appears to be either dead or frozen.
I realize it’s best to live in the moment, fully embracing the “now,” but honestly? I’m not at all in the mood for that here’s-the-best-way-to-stay emotionally-healthy nonsense.

Right now my “now” is all about looking ahead to the vibrant warmth of my garden in bloom.

Sunday Confessional: selfies aren’t my forte

And yet, when I came across this forgotten selfie on my phone I immediately fell in love with it. Because the photo took me back to where it was taken: on our Rustler’s Gulch hike in Crested Butte last July. Zippy and I’d climbed the trail at the end of the valley to sit on a huge outcropping to eat our lunch. Everywhere we looked was absolutely glorious. Up, down, side to side. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, wildflowers, stream, trees, mountains. Nature at her very best.

But this selfie isn’t just a reminder of the natural splendor we witnessed on that hike. Our expressions are also documentation of how very happy Zippy and I were that day. The poorly framed image and those nostrils only add to the good memories.

Sunday Confessional: I miss Zoey and am also glad she’s gone

As Zippy and Zebu watch football right now, this photo from my phone reminds me of another recent football Sunday. On that day in November, Zoey and Emma were Zippy’s (napping) football buddies.

It’s been almost two months since we said goodbye to Zoey and I must confess her absence has been easier to handle than witnessing her decline. I’m grateful for the years we had together and thankful she’s no longer suffering pain and confusion. (Bonus: she’s also free of all Broncos games!)

Sunday Confessional: ten years later and I still don’t know

I’m revising a young adult novel I fast-drafted in 2009. Since that time I’ve, in a very on-again-off-again manner, written several drafts. I’ve known the protagonist’s emotional arc pretty much all along. The action plot has come more slowly, but I’ve also had a pretty good grasp of that for quite some time.

My struggle is with the climactic scene. I’ve written several versions and like each of them. Today as I wallowed in confusion and indecision, I decided maybe the best solution would be to make this manuscript a Choose Your Adventure story. That way, the reader’s choices would dictate how it all plays out and I’d be off the hook.

It’s either that or I flip a coin.

Sunday Confessional: my son’s mess helped me feel better

Late this afternoon I crawled back in bed. Despite the fact that I’d taken a brisk 2-mile walk around the neighborhood, I was sad and depressed. I slept for a bit, but when I woke I still felt blue-blue-blue. I decided I’d stay in bed until tomorrow morning. Screw this almost-last-day-of-December. I’d had enough.

And then I remembered Wildebeest’s car. I’d borrowed it last night and discovered the floors behind the front seats were filled with trash. Receipts, wrappers, water bottles, etc. As I huddled under my covers I thought about that finite amount of stuff in his car. I could do something about that! I would see instant results! I got out of bed, put on clothes, and went outside with a garbage can plus a bag for recyclables.

Wow.

As I unearthed layers of stuff from the floor I came upon what appeared to be a whole lot of bird seed. That’s odd, I thought as I continued excavating. Wildebeest doesn’t share my bird love. Why would he be feeding birds? Then I reached under the seat and pulled out a flattened box. Rice A Roni. In fact, I eventually found two destroyed boxes of Rice A Roni in his car. But the real treat (not to be confused with the ♪ Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat  ♫ ) was a clump of fossilized dog poop that’d clearly come off a friend’s shoes as said friend rode in the back seat. (You’re probably thinking I’m rude for publicly calling out my son’s slovenly habits, but he came by them honestly. When I was his age I was a smoker who wasn’t good about emptying the ash tray in my car and sometimes the filled-to-capacity ashtray would start smoldering when I put out another butt in the gigantic pile of butts. I know, I know.)

Wildebeest’s car was a dumpster on wheels. Oddly enough, I was quite content as I cleaned and vacuumed the interior and then wiped down the dashboard. Instant results, baby. Tangible progress. A job well done.

I’m pleased to report my blues are gone for the time being and that I’m not getting back in bed for a good long while. Wildebeest’s mess + my unorthodoxy = WIN.

 

Sunday Confessional: it’s not my fault my kitchen’s clean

As the morning sun illuminated our cooktop, I realized the gas burner grates were beyond hope of ever being truly clean again. They were blackened by heat, grease, and speckled with intermittent spots of cooked-on gunk. (Yeah, I’m not proud. Sunday confessional, remember?) I went online and found a set of four grates for $77 plus shipping. I told Zippy I wanted to order them. He insisted he could get the grates looking good again.

His online research said to submerge the grates in a pot of water and baking soda and bring the water to a boil then let it sit for a half-hour. He filled our six-gallon soup pot with water, baking soda, and submerged two grates in the concoction. The water boiled. The grates soaked. Some gunk dissolved. Zippy removed those grates and added the other two to the same batch of water. Then, because he was afraid the recipe would be weaker the second time around, he added more baking soda to the boiling water.

Chemical reaction, yo.

Those six gallons of boiling water instantly turned to foam that overflowed the soup pot like one of those vinegar-and-baking-soda science fair volcanoes. A blue-ribbon, first place science fair volcano. Foam flooded the cooktop and countertop, poured into the drawers and down the cabinets on its way to swamping the floor. So. Much. Water. The waves were practically whitecaps as they surged across the kitchen.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean up baking soda?

Suffice to say, every surface was wiped down MANY times (with a final vinegar rinse). As a result, the kitchen floor, which was way past due for a mopping, is now cleaner than it’s been in some time. The cabinet doors also look better and the drawers are tidier and less cluttered.

However, I wouldn’t go so far as to call our watery catastrophe a win. The foam seeped into the cooktop and now one of the burners is forever dead. The old linoleum flooring is permanently scarred because of the boiling water and baking soda. Also? About an hour after the cleanup was over, I was making my smoothie next to the sink when I heard running water. Weird. I hadn’t turned on the faucet. Where was the sound coming from? And then my bare foot was wet.

Water was running out of the cabinet below the sink.

Busted pipe. More specifically, one old corroded pipe that couldn’t handle the pressure of baking soda and vinegar dumped down the drains during the cleanup. After Zippy’s many colorful words, his trip to the hardware store and new pipe installation, and his final mopping episode, I asked my exhausted spouse if he wished he’d gone along with my plan to spend $77 plus shipping for four new grates.

He said no. I kid you not.

Sunday Confessional: I missed what was right in front of me

As I crouched next to my writing room window to photograph a Red-tailed Hawk on the wire, I was so intent on focusing the shot on the bird rather than the branches and power lines that I didn’t see what else was going on: another hawk had arrived.

It wasn’t until I’d downloaded the photos that I saw those legs in the upper right-hand corner of the image. Maybe there’s such a thing as being too intent on one’s goal.

Sunday Confessional: sometimes I want to head for shore

It’s Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and while I’ve managed to achieve my word count each day (a minimum of 1700 words), I’m still susceptible to panic and overwhelm. For example, yesterday as I drove home from my solo writing retreat in Estes Park I wasn’t congratulating myself on the progress I’d made. Instead, I worried that I hadn’t yet found my narrator’s true voice. Then I switched to agonizing over my “too many plot lines” I’d never be able to connect, followed by the certainty that my first draft was such an irredeemable mess it would take years to revise the manuscript into anything coherent.

I felt like a poser. I wanted to run away from the whole thing.

Those feelings mirror what it’s like when I stand in the ocean and watch a huge wave come my way. I experience a slew of emotions. Panic. Exhilaration. Awe. Fear.  An urge to run for shore.

While I frequently do run from big waves, I don’t like to run from my writing commitments. So this morning when I woke with those same angsty feelings, I looked for some online support and wisdom to help me reel in negative thoughts about my first draft. I found this:  7 Things NOT to Worry About During Your First Draft

All my worries are addressed in that article which makes me think I’m not the first writer in history to freak out about her shitty first draft. Newsflash, huh?

Today I continue working on my NaNo project. And as the words add up I have those same big-wave feelings I experience when I choose to dive into the wave and then come out the other side. Exhilaration. Pride. Awe.

The desire to do it again.

Sunday Confessional: I’m not feeling very neighborly

So many people in my neighborhood have signs in support of candidates and policies that are destructive and greed-based.  Candidates who want nothing more than to strip away our health care. Strip away protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Strip away health insurance coverage for young adults under their parents’ plans.

I tried explaining my family’s health care needs to a kind neighbor displaying a campaign sign for one such candidate, telling him it was hurtful to see that sign in his yard. He listened to what I had to say about my family’s medical needs and how that candidate’s policies would change our lives for the worst. He listened and then said he’d talk to A and D, two men in our neighborhood. Well, apparently my female opinion wasn’t enough in the face of men’s opinions because my neighbor still has the sign for the candidate backed by the Koch Brothers in his yard.

Then there are the many anti-Proposition 112 signs in the neighborhood. All of them saying it’s more important to save a few oil and gas jobs in Colorado rather than protect the health and safety of its citizens. Every time I see one of those signs I wish I could put a drilling rig/fracking site on their front lawn. It’s so easy to vote against public health and safety when you’re not at risk. There is zero chance we’ll ever have oil and gas operations in our neighborhood, so fuck everyone else around the state, right? Not to mention how insane it is to ignore the fact that the planet is on a crash course to extinction due to fossil fuels.

I apologize for venting here. I just wish my neighborhood was filled with people trying to behave less like ignorant greedheads and more like Mister Rogers. I’m gonna go back to my fictional neighborhood now . . .

Sunday Confessional: I love me a good bad pun

No one in the family gets away with just one name. The furry ones in particular are addressed by an assortment of monikers. Our elder dog, Zoey, is also known as the Orange Roughy, Speed Bump, Zoey Pigza, and the Pig.

Our younger dog came to the family with the name Emma and quickly became Emma Jean, then Emma Jean-Jean, and frequently just Jean.

In fact, I often greet my smiling friend with “Hi, Jean.” Then I pause. “Or should I say, Oral.”

 

 

 

 

Emma finds me very witty. I swear.

Sunday Confessional: It’s taken me five days to write 350 words

I’m writing a new opening for my madcap middle-grade novel, one that (hopefully) sets the correct tone for the manuscript. It’s been a struggle. Over the past five days I’ve written draft after draft after draft and today started thinking I’d be better off if I gave a chimpanzee a typewriter and locked her in here while I took a long nap.

Time to step away from the keyboard . . .

Sunday Confessional: can’t keep my eyes open

Just returned home from lunch and a visit with my mother-in-law who had a birthday yesterday. I sat down at my computer to pick up where I’d left off on my revisions and was hit with a wave of sleepy.

It’s raining outside my window and I’m opting for a nap.

Quiet, please.

Sunday Confessional: Too much butt-in-chair time

Despite the fact that I chose FLEXIBILITY as this year’s guide word, I’m feeling seriously inflexible right now. In the past month, I haven’t been consistent with my routines and have been sitting way too much, for way too long.

This is my reminder to move, stretch, and experience life outside my writing space.

Sunday Confessional: I should’ve paid attention

I ran cross country in high school. In addition to the regular conference meets, our coach entered us in quite a few invitationals around the state. We ran on many different courses. Before every race, our coach had us jog the two-mile course. One of my teammates always paid very close attention to the flags and turns, noting each. It was vital she knew where she was going because she was a front-runner and frequently won the races. From my perspective, the pre-race course jog was a warm-up and nothing more. There were always plenty of runners ahead of me in races and I’d just follow them.

Yesterday I decided to run the race route of a local 5k organized by the high school cross country coach. I’ve run the race several times and thought it would be a nice change to do a workout outside my immediate neighborhood. I assumed I’d remember the course route.

Turns out it would’ve been a good idea to go online and refresh my memory before taking off. Without runners ahead of me to lead the way, I got lost out there in the hot afternoon sun and with all the backtracking, ended up running considerably more than 3.1 miles.

Old habits die hard.

Sunday Confessional

Today, I didn’t share.

Zippy and I worked in the front yard for 90 minutes (we’d set a two-hour goal, but gave up after the effing wind blew off my hat one too many times). He deadheaded the blue mist spirea bushes while I dealt with the lavender. WE HAVE SO MUCH LAVENDER.

_MG_0006 Bee on lavender

Lavender in all its summertime glory.

Normally, when I thin plants I put a FREE ad on Craigslist and leave the plants next to the house for people to pick up whenever they can. Today, I couldn’t deal with added layers of decision-making and organization, and tore out a garbage-bag full of run-amok lavender and threw it away. To summarize: I didn’t share plants with other gardeners and I didn’t compost the waste.

If confession is supposed to be so good for the soul, why do I still feel guilty?

Sunday Confessional: thirsty edition

I’m working away on my manuscript, making progress and feeling a distinct sense of accomplishment. However, I’m also looking forward to when I punch out for the day and can enjoy this parting gift from my brother-in-law:

Two of my favorite things — hooping and hoppy beer. Thank you again, Bob, for the Palisade Brewing Company’s Hula Hoppie Session IPA. This beer is already making me smile.

Safe travels on your drive back east!

 

 

 

Sunday Confessional

Today is one of those days I’d prefer to interact with plants and animals rather than contemplate the mind-boggling awfulness of some human beings. I can’t think of one instance in which a clematis bloom caused me a moment’s pain or anxiety.

Until they flower again, I’m basking in the memory of their quiet beauty.