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The too-strong smell of Jean Nate in the elevator, taking me back to my teenage years…the sister of a teacher killed at Sandy Point speaking outside Union Station at a rally for Moms Against Guns….a red peony with no scent….a walk down 16th Street….lunch at Little India….tears sparked by the song “Leaving of Liverpool”…. leftover exhaustion from previous days….the first day that feels like summer.

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Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There are no random acts…We are all connected…You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind…” — Mitch Albom

Daily gratitudes:
Air conditioning when it’s needed
Hugs and kisses
That Kelsea comes home in less than two weeks
That my garden seems to be taking
That the woman loudly discussing her parenting philosophies a phone call  on the early bus got off shortly after I boarded

 

Sealongings

Waves are formless and endless,
Their gentle rush and lion’s roar
A sound that fills ears, shells, and spirits.

I think that people who complain
That the sea is too loud,
That it disturbs their slumber,
Must be missing a small piece of their soul.
Perhaps the sea has swallowed it and
has yet to give it back.

It holds mine in its fathoms.
It lets me breathe unencumbered beneath the surface.
It rolls in a rhythm that matches my heartbeat.
It serves as a grateful vessel for my tears.
It cools and feeds my passions.

Far away, I hear that gentle rush
In conch shells on the shelves of coffee shops
And in dreams.
Always in dreams.

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Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the Day: “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.” — Kate Chopin

Daily gratitudes:
Birds in the trees
Mr. Man’s paw on my knee
Kelsea’s writing and her sense of justice
New tickets leading to new adventures
Not having to shovel my sidewalk

 

 

What Makes A Poem?

The question is the title.
Is it the sentiment?
The words?
The lay of lines?
The rhyme? Now unrequired?

I can say
That
This is the longest I have ever gone
Without seeing my daughter
Since the day she was born.

That knowledge hit my heart
This morning
Like the sharp quill of a feather
And became a poem.

I could
Have written
Those same words
– All these words –
In a sentence or two.

You
Would have read them
But somehow, it would not
have been the same.

Those words,
that feeling,
deserved
a poem.

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Ventanas al Mar, Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the Day: “If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully. Stories about food show a strong connection. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows about the details of her mother’s life – without flinching or whining – the stronger the daughter.” — Anita Diamant

Daily gratitudes:
Blooming trees
The mountains today
New travels
Lighthouses
Egg Salad Diabolo with MKL
When Mr. Man is happy to see me

Springs
No matter how broken
Winter leaves me
I find that
Like a bough
Thought killed by the chill,
I recover
Under the warmth
Of the spring sun.

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Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Quote of the day: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson

Daily gratitudes:
Working to make things work
That my bout of illness has passed
Faith
Harris Tweed
MKL

The New Year is now a distant memory for most of us. I know that MKL and I played pool, drank martinis, ate something yummy, watched tropical visions on Hawaii 5-0 on Netflix, and fell asleep before midnight. But many of you in the blogosphere may have noticed the “One Word Challenge.” I was late to that party, but the idea is that you pick one word to which you dedicate your actions and goals for the year. It’s simpler than your standard New Year’s resolutions, which are generally abandoned by the time you get the Christmas Tree off to the recycle center.

I’m not generally a big fan of this sort of thing (or of large parties), but this struck some chord within me. MKL and I do have a goal of combining households and actually living like a married couple in 2016, which led me to think that my word was “home.” But that is a very, very complex word for me (although MKL has made it simpler, as I feel as if my home is where he is). So I don’t think “home” is quite my word. I think my word is for 2016 is “bravery.”

BRAVERY.

The things that feed my soul that I fear pursuing because of rejection or failure need to be brought out to the show windows this year, reactions be damned. Maybe not quite like bravery in terms of Braveheart where Mel Gibson gets his intestines pulled out on a roller, but bravery in terms of going after what I want (no one else can do it for me) and taking risks around changes in my life, seeing new places, challenging myself. I haven’t done anything particularly brave in five years, when I was forced to reshape my roadkill of a life. So it’s time. Wish me luck. No, wish me courage.

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Eastern Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” — Emma Donoghue

Daily gratitudes:
My MRI technician
Shamanic journeys
Meeting deadlines
Melting snow
Love

 

 

The sea changes from day to day, as do I. Serene one day, restless the next. And ever sleepless. Forgive me for being gone a bit, and don’t forget about me. I am throwing myself into working on my novel (well, one of them) with a passion inspired by NaNoWriMo. Otherwise, I am still broken-toed and gimpy-armed and just managing.

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Great Exuma, Out Islands, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “You have to write the book that wants to be written.” — Madeleine L’Engle

Daily gratitudes:
Noticing the details but not getting trapped within them
Coffee shops
A good massage
Talking with Kelsea
My surprise from MKL

NaNoWriMo Day 2 word count: 3657

This struck my fancy. I miss letters – actual letters that arrive in a mailbox, not emails, which are nice, but just not the same. I always used to write my letters on onion-skin paper – does anyone but me remember that kind of paper? It had a lightness, a sheerness to it, that made it seem more romantic somehow, more classic.  And of course, I always needed just the right pen. I think that’s a characteristic of most writers, that need for the perfect instrument to spill our hearts and words onto paper. Hope you are all having a lovely week.

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Salida, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Daily gratitudes:
Watching a pink sunset at Topsail on the Jolly Roger webcam
That the grass is still emerald green in October
Mr. P, my new travel pillow
Lunches with MKL
Olives and feta

Ah, Willie.

This was (and probably still is) one of my sister (inlaw)’s favorite songs. (I call her my sister (inlaw) as opposed to my sister-in-law because I’m no longer married to her husband’s brother, but she and I are more like sisters than he and my ex-Pat are like the actual brothers that they are. Generally, we just introduce each other as “my sister” and do the explaining later. I guess that kind of makes us like sister outlaws. And we both have some outlaw in us anyway.) Gracious, I am parenthetical today.

My sister (inlaw) and her husband are now living on the road, which is a perfect retirement lifestyle for them. As life currently stands, I don’t get on the road as often as I used to, but I am blessed with a partner who loves road trips. My first “big date” with MKL was a drive. While I didn’t know it at the time, this trip was kind of a test (though I suppose every early date is.) MKL is a car guy. He loves cars. When he is stressed, he lapses into “carspeak.” It relaxes him. I have learned a ton about cars from him. He knows his stuff and he explains it well. We do have a happy agreement that sometimes, he will go past my point of comprehension and it starts sounding like “blah blah blah” to me; at that point, he can stop talking or continue talking, but we both know I won’t be understanding anything. He gives me a warning when he knows he’s about to start going “blah blah blah.”

While he didn’t need a car girl, he was hoping to find someone who enjoyed the road, and who was enjoyable to be in a car with – hence, the test of the first big date. If I had cringed about high speeds, or whined that I wanted to get out of the car, or been a total bore, or not shared some love of music, I don’t think we’d be where we are now. But I do love the road, love to move, love to drive, love to see all kinds of things, love the sound of his voice, love our conversations, and love (most of) his musical tastes. We drove for something like seven hours that day – up to Leadville to see the reclaimed molybdenum (isn’t that the best word ever) mines (which look like beautiful rice paddies now as opposed to the alien public swimming pools they used to resemble) over to Buena Vista (now one of our favorite spots) for lunch at Casa del Sol, and then following the Arkansas River to Canon City and back up to my home north of Denver.

We are excellent travelling partners on the road of life.

My wanderlust has been in high gear this year and due to finances and work, I haven’t been able to indulge it much – our lovely trip to Anna Maria Island in February, and I think we made one trip to Cottonwood Hot Springs (but that could be my wishful thinking) before the fire there – and that’s been it. So I am super eager to get away for a few days, see new places, revisit places I haven’t been to in decades, and spend time with MKL. This will be our first road trip in my truck, which has seen me (and Kelsea) across the country and back, and has proven herself a faithful steed.

I won’t tell you where we’re going, so the pictures will be a surprise! If I have internet, I’ll try to talk to you from the road, but if I don’t, then I’ll see you when I get back!

I am blessed to work across the street from the marvelous Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. The Tattered (as we so fondly call it) has tiptoed in and out of my life in Colorado up until now.

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Decades ago, ex-Pat took me to Denver early in our dating years. At that time, the hip, trendy place now known as LoDo was still a long stretch of abandoned warehouses that served rail freight companies once upon a time. There were no sidewalks, only weedy and cracked asphalt streets. He boosted me up onto one of the old concrete loading docks because I wanted to see what it felt like up there. Homeless people were sleeping in ragged heaps in the deserted doorways. It was very quiet. There was a dangerous feel to the place. The two holdovers from the area’s glory days were Union Station, Denver’s railroad depot, and the Tattered. Entering that magical bookstore was like being transported into a fantasy come to life. It felt old and full of treasures, with creaky wooden floors and cushy deep chairs. We didn’t stay, as Pat wasn’t a fan of bookstores, and I suspect we were in search of champagne, but our brief visit remained bright in my memory.

Even though Boulder is only 25 miles distant from Denver, it was not a place I went often, until I started working downtown. About six years ago, I tried taking Kelsea to the Tattered, and I couldn’t find it. It was as if it had vanished. I thought I knew where I was going. I even looked it up on Google Maps. But it completely eluded me, and I decided that it must have gone the way of all flesh – or of many independent bookstores – and closed. The updated Tattered Cover, locate on Colfax Avenue in a former record store, was a disappointing shadow of my memory.

In some secret space of my mind, I believe that it had hidden itself from me on that day, using a building-sized invisibility cloak. I didn’t need it then, and so it was not available to me.

A year later, I stumbled upon it one lovely blue Saturday when I was downtown, after I had turned my life upside-down. I wandered around inside, completely bewildered, because I knew that I had been here before, and I knew that, the last time I looked for it, it had been gone. But yet, here it was. And here I was, baffled, but delighted.

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After a cruel turn of events, when my life again capsized, the ropes I tossed out pulled me to this job across the street, where most days, I have the pleasure playing with words, and I am privileged to call myself a writer. I still make the distinction between the writing job that pays, and my own writing, which doesn’t, but I am a writer regardless. A dream come true, even if it is not right now exactly how I would have dreamed it.

The Tattered has played a large role in my courtship with MKL, which really started from another of those lifelines I tossed out back when I was drowning two years ago. We work at opposite ends of the 16th Street Mall, and so we have lunch together nearly every day, which has allowed our relationship to bloom in a different way than if we were having only weekend dates full of playing and passion. We have had a chance to talk more than most couples do when they are dating, perhaps more than most couples who have been together for many years. Tattered, where they now serve soups and sandwiches, coffee and tea, has been one of our favorite destinations, and the staff all know us there, and think we’re adorable. When one of us shows up without the other, we usually have to explain.

This morning, I stopped in to see if I could find an impulse card for him. None of the cards felt right today, but I did. I had been feeling anxious, as I have been feeling for some days now, and being in the Tattered soothed me. I found books to add to my “Desiderata” list, along with a sense of peace and quiet delight.

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I have gone there to shed tears and to find silence. I have felt heartbreak and joy within its comforting walls. I have listened to favorite authors, found friends, and reveled in the feel and scent of books.

If a place can be an anchor, the Tattered is one for me. Not an anchor in the sense that it keeps me from moving. An anchor in that it provides me with a sense of timeless security, of stability. It reflects my past and my future, breathes whispers of my parents and the places I was raised, and reminds me that there are always new words waiting to be discovered, some of them my own.

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The Edge

I stepped too close,
found myself looking into a dark hole
that held my future
which looked like nothing.

The edge of that abyss
that is called depression
is exhausting
sickening
terrifying
and compelling.

When hope feels as hard to find
a shards of glass in moving water,
and light is as faint as the echo
of a match blown out,
that edge crawls with seductive whispers,
promising ease.

Never forget that depression lies.

November 2017
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