Mates, Boats, and Water

You know you’re in Florida when you are checking out at the grocery store, and the January sky is cobalt blue without a cloud, and the temperature is 60°, and the cashier says to you “Stay warm!”

You know you’ve found a mate when he goes mattress shopping with you, because my mattress which about 7 years old, is rolling us to the center of it at night. And he pays for half of it. Because he sleeps on it half the week. Because we are now at a point where we both think of our things as ours, not as his and mine. It’s just so easy.

He gave me a keyboard for Christmas. A Yamaha, 76 keys. It can play all kinds of instruments, and percussion, and rhythms. I have wanted one since I moved out of the house I lived in with my ex. I took piano lessons as a girl, for 4 or 5 years. My high school boyfriend was a pretty good guitarist and sometimes we’d play together, he on the guitar, me on the piano. Things like Classical Gas, and The House of the Rising Sun.

I can’t play very well now, but I’m practicing. I got some music books, and have been working on two songs, chosen because they appeared to be fairly easy to play. Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind and Simon and Garfunkel Bridge over Troubled Water. If I can master them, I feel like I’ll be well on the way to recovering my ability. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I can still pound them out pretty easily.

I gave him a good pair of binoculars. They are kind of a boat gift, he would love to have a nice 25’ to 30’ low profile cabin cruiser, with a berth, a galley, a head, outboards. I love that life, but know how much work it is. Though my boat was much bigger than that, so maybe the work would be manageable. To be gently rocked to sleep in a quiet anchorage, and wake up on the water, sip coffee in the cockpit, listen to the gulls, watch the fishing boats go out is a wonderful life. I can’t yet imagine how much more wonderful it would be with a guy who rarely gets upset, who can think a problem through. So now he has a pair of binoculars for that dream. Maybe it will manifest, who knows.

I’ve been thinking about the ocean, and how the perpetual motion of the sea is like the hearbeat of the world, carrying to all corners the emotion of life: loving gentle refreshing, playful, lapping the sand, and then building, growing, not dangerous yet, just purposeful. Then the adrenaline of a storm hits and the water crashes, carrying away the beach to deposit it later on some unknown unsuspecting shore. The fish are smart enough to go deep, where the water is always calm, but the things on the surface can be eaten by the sea when it is angry.

I’m a fair weather boater myself. I see no need to test my skill against the power of angry water, I have been in the trough, and looking up, seen nothing but water all around me, with a patch of sky in the middle. It was never my choice to be there at all, but my ex liked to exert his machismo and take a ride in it every once in awhile. It was my choice always to go back to safe harbor and wait another day, One time I told him we better turn back and he looked at me and said, “We can’t. I’ll roll the boat if I try to turn around.” The seas were too close together to have time to make the turn in between. So we fought across Nantucket shoals for about 4 hours, going 5 miles. The only other boat we saw was a US Coast Guard training ship a couple of miles off, a sailing ship. We made it to Martha’s Vineyard, and miraculously the water was flat calm there, and down the rest of Vineyard Sound, across Block Island Sound and back into Long Island Sound, where our slip lay. We were happy to be home from that ride.

In dreams water represents our emotions, and I have had more than a few dreams about the water. Some very weird, as dreams may be. When I can’t sleep, I often play white noise of waves crashing onshore. The rhythm puts me to sleep. Which I’m hoping it will do now.

Love and light to all…..

JusJoJan Daily Prompt: Aggravation

Not sleeping is such an aggravation. The last few nights I’ve awakened about 3 AM and been awake for about an hour or so. I don’t really know why. This morning at 4 AM I was hungry, which was weird, so I got up and ate some grapes.

Last night I took an Ambien, well half an Ambien, at 3 AM because I knew I had to get up and be at the dr early to get some fasting lab work done. It took me half the day to shake it off. I had the refrigerator repair guy coming over to fix my icemaker, again, (which was in itself a total aggravation on a fridge less than 2 years old). And we were getting a delivery of a new mattress foundation at some point. Luckily, the refrigerator guy came early, and after he left Dan said he’d wait for the other stuff and I went in to bed and took a nap and slept it off.

It was a good thing I did, too. Because we went to open mic night and I would have hated to miss it, or to be sitting through it wishing I was in bed. It was such a fun night. The guy who is our local poet passed around a clipboard with paper and a pen, and asked everyone to write on it “what pushes your buttons?” Then he made up a poem, improvised completely, when he got up to take his turn at the mike. The whole night was fun. There were lots of performers who are only here in the winter, so it actually ran a little late. It was a nice night too, in the 60’s.

What else aggravates me? Not much, really, any more. I’m learning to leave behind things that are an aggravation, and to accept that some things just are. Some things just are, like the stuff in my blog yesterday called WTH. (I should own up to the fact that at first I called it WTF, but I’m trying to clean up my mouth.) Those things are really more of an annoyance than an aggravation though. Except not sleeping, again. THAT’s an aggravation. I guess I’ll head back to bed and see if I can get back to sleep.

Here’s a wish that your aggravations today be small. Love and light to all.

This post is for the JusJoJan writing prompt on Linda G. Hills page.  If you’d like to join in the fun please visit her at  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/24840312/posts/1731166867  for the rules and directions.

Growing Up in the Garden

Sunday at my writers group meeting, one of the women showed us a book her daughter had given her called “The Complete Story.” In it are about 200 pages of prompts for short stories, and the rest of the page is for you to complete the story. I thought, out loud, what a big help that would be in my quest to attempt fiction. We decided as a group to pass the book around, each of us could take a turn perusing the book and writing based on one of the prompts. Since I clearly needed it the most, I got it first.

I’ve been reading the prompts and marking the ones I think I could do something with by putting a little scrap of paper in the page. I have about 5 marked, so now I have to pick one! What I’m going to do is publish whatever I come up with below, and put the prompt portion in italics. I guess I’m about to see if I can actually write fiction.

Growing Up in the Garden

I didn’t cry when she died, or at the funeral, or at the reception. It wasn’t until the next morning when I went into the pantry and saw row upon row of canned vegetables and fruits and jams she had prepared for the long winter ahead. The shelves were filled with memories, memories of my grandmother’s garden, memories of her laughter, and her stories as we weeded, and picked and watered. One story though, bubbled up to the surface standing in that pantry. One that only I knew, and had stuffed into the recesses of my heart.

Gramma had an acre of land just on the city limits. It had been her family’s homestead, and she had lived there all her life. At one time, it had been a farm in the country, but the town had spread out to her place in the last couple decades and she and my grandfather had sold off the other acreage they owned, so that they could keep the homestead, a rambling old farm house and gardens, and a big shed out back, full of gardening tools, composting bins, wheelbarrows, mowers and wagons etc. She kept a big vegetable garden, a berry patch and some fruit trees. There was a hedge of current berries running along one border of her yard.

As I looked on her shelf at the jars of current berry jelly, with their neatly waxed tops, I was transported back to a memory that changed my life forever.

The berries produced by these bushes were prolific. Gramma usually picked them with me, and she’d always stop before the end of the hedge. If she sent me out there by myself, she’d tell me exactly where to stop. As I got old enough to pick them on my own, I began to idly wonder why we never went all the way down the hedge. I asked her once, and she told me she just liked to keep close to the house, and that the berries on that end of the hedge weren’t as good because the soil was not as good as the soil closer to the house.

I never really believed that story, because there were obviously good berries down there, I could SEE them. So one day when I was 10 or 12, she lay down to take a nap, which became her practice as she got older. As soon as she fell asleep, I wandered out to the end of the hedge. Berries shining in the sunlight, and leaves green and healthy. I pushed aside branches, and climbed into the hedge a little, making a little fort around myself. Seated on the ground, I surveyed my little domain under the branches of the current berry bush.

The branches made a canopy over my head, and a floor of twigs and leaves. I looked off toward the end of the hedge, which also marked one border of her yard. I thought I saw a red ribbon hanging from a branch. It piqued my curiosity. It had to have been put there purposefully by someone who was, like me, hanging out under the berries.

I slowly crawled toward it, intrigued. As I approached on my hands and knees, swatting bugs from my face and arms, I could see the ground had been disturbed underneath the branch where the ribbon hung. Maybe not too recently, but recently enough to have no bed of leaves or twigs around it. I started to dig in the exposed dirt, with my bare hands.

A few inches below the surface my fingers scraped a flat surface, which clearly was not a rock, or a root of the current berries, or even the tree which was about 10 ft away from the hedge. I began furiously to dig the dirt off of whatever it was. My hands were covered, and my clothes, as I flung handfuls of dirt to the side. The form of a metal box began to take shape in the dirt. I found a heavy twig, strong enough to dig down the sides of the box. Finally, I had dug deep enough to be able to lift the box out of the dirt, unlatch the top and open it.

As I reached down to unclasp the latch, I stopped my self. Did I really want to know what was in here? Someone had taken a lot of care to bury this, to hide it from the world. And obviously, it was Gramma who hid it, because she never wanted us to go picking on this far end of the hedge. But my 11 year old’s curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to go for it.

The box, once I cleared some of the dirt off was a rusty black color. I took a deep breath and gently unclasped the latch. I raised the cover and found a stack of old letters, and below them, a pair of yellow baby booties. I gently picked them up and felt the soft yarn, and the satin ribbon around the top. Whose were they? And why were they buried in the current berry hedge?

As I contemplated the answers, I realized the answers may be in the stack of letters tied up with a thick piece of twine. I began to slowly untie the twine, being deliberately careful not to pull it apart. All the letters were postmarked in the 1930’s. I took one off the top and opened it.

I began to read the letter. It was from someone named Dewey Thornton, written to my grandmother who would have been about 15 or 16 at the time.

Dear Irene,

I promise this will be my last letter to you. I don’t want to make your life any harder. I just want to make sure you know how sorry I am for how things worked out for you and I. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you, because it’s been hard enough for me to have you torn away from me and sent away, and to know there is a baby out there I will never know.

Please don’t hate me. If you ever want to write to me, I would be happy to hear from you. But since my other letters have gone unanswered, I’m guessing you would rather I butted out of your life, and the last thing I want to do is make it harder for you. Please know I love you. I’m sorry, for everything.

Love always,

Dewey

As I sat there, in the bushes, completely engrossed in my reading I felt a hand on my shoulder, and my grandmother’s soft voice calling my name. I looked up at her, through the current bushes, completely disoriented, as if seeing her at that moment was seeing someone I’d never seen before. “Gramma? I choked out her name. She gently asked me to bring the metal box up to the house. I did as she asked. What else could I do?

At the house she sat me down at the kitchen table, one of those old laminated tables with a metal frame around it, and poured me a glass of lemonade. “I see you’ve been digging up some of my old memories,” she said. I began to apologize to her, I’d not meant to intrude. It was just my curiosity got the better of me.

She hushed me and began a long, quiet, sweet talk with me. I learned secrets that no one else knew about my grandmother that day. I guess by then, 50 years later, she was wanting to tell someone. It was a story of young love, culminating in a teen pregnancy and the delivery of a stillborn baby. Her eyes misted as she told me, and her voice was low and a few times, she stopped for a few seconds to breathe.

It was understood that what she told me that day should never be repeated, that it was a sacred trust she’d given to me. We’d not spoken of it again, though it hung between us for the rest of our lives. From that moment on, there was context in everything she did to show her love for her family.

Today, standing in her pantry, with shelves lined with all the fruit and vegetables she had put up from her garden for the winter, I slid down the wall, onto the floor. My head in my hands, deep gutteral sobs bubbled up my throat and into the air. I could finally cry for this tender, sweet woman.

WTH??

You know, sometimes you just spend the day saying WTH.

Sitting up, playing cards. So tired I am coming close to face planting on the table, so I go to bed. I wake up an hour later with stupid legs. WTH? My legs decide now is a good time to get restless? So I get up I walk around. I end up here, writing. WTH? I want to sleep, that’s all.

Go out to dinner. To a place we’ve been before, and liked. Except this time, the service is abominable. We wait a half hour for our food, and get the wrong side orders. The place is empty, there are only about 3 tables with people. Then we have to wait for our check. We can see our waiter in the kitchen gabbing away, paying no attention to us. WTH?

I flipped a switch on a kitchen light, to leave it on when Dan and I head for his place. It won’t go on. I get a bulb and tall Dan changes it. It still won’t go on. Not the bulb. We don’t have time to figure it out, we need to go. We get back today, and another light near the the one that is out won’t go on when I flip the switch. No breakers out. Dan finds the GFI breaker is popped on my toaster oven. Why? I mean good, it was an easy fix. The lights work now, and the toaster oven but, WTH? Why did the GFI pop?

When I don’t write, I don’t get many views on my blog, and don’t expect to. There are 2 people in CT who view my blog a few times a day, even if I don’t write. If I do write, they might hit it 10 times. I know who they are, courtesy of an app I have installed. An old boyfriend, and his ex(?)-girlfriend. They don’t follow my blog, just read it all the time. Why not just follow it and wait for a notice? I won’t even ask why they read it. I do know that if I didn’t see them visiting on the app, I would rarely even think about either one of them. WTH? I mean, really? WTH? Get a life, you two. Seriously.

I’m falling asleep sitting here writing this. Maybe I can sleep now, maybe my legs have stopped. WTH?

Thoughts at 3 AM

Up in the middle of the night. It’s a rare occurrence any more. We had a really nice dinner tonight, NY strip steaks on the grill, roasted potatoes, salad and a bottle of wine. I’ve not been drinking much wine lately because it spikes my sugar too much, but today we had such a good day I felt like having wine with dinner. At any rate, I woke up about 2:30 and tossed and turned for a bit. I put on my White Noise app on my phone of ocean waves crashing rhythmically. Dan was also awake, and we talked about getting up for a little while. I suddenly got a huge muscle cramp in the back of my thigh, I couldn’t even straighten my leg for a minute. That was enough to get me out of bed, and sitting with a hot pad on the couch. As I got up I could feel a small knot in the other thigh. WTF? Did I need water? I don’t know, but I am sitting with a glass of water writing this. Dan’s in the kitchen, cutting up a cantaloupe we bought at the store today.

Why was the day so good? Because we both got a lot done around my house, and enjoyed each others company. We always enjoy each other. It was nice not to feel exhausted at some part of the day, which can happen with the RA. We both have been sleeping well, and neither of us are historically good sleepers, though I have to say, I will have to change my thoughts about that because I sleep well way more often than not. It helps not to have a bunch of drama in my life.

Dan just brought the cut up cantaloupe in to me to sample, it is so sweet, it’s like candy.

I’m excited for Sunday, because a.) it is supposed to be in the upper 60’s again after a week of cold weather, and b.) my writers group is coming over in the afternoon. I’m going to make, I think, a purple velvet torte. It’s very weird, lol, but I love it. It’s made with beets, and cocoa, and agave nectar and eggs. Gluten free. (Which is good for me) Serve it with whipped cream. The first time I ate it at a girlfriends, I had to ask her what the heck I was eating. There’s no way you’d have any idea what it was made from.

My son has been planning to come see me in March. Now he’s talking about bringing the GF and GFD with him. I am not so excited about that. They have been together as long as Dan and I, but I guess I’d just rather he came alone, since I haven’t seen him in almost a year. Not to mention that I don’t think they have the money to buy 2 more plane tickets. It’s not my call though. I mean, I guess I could say no, I don’t want them to come, but honestly, I think that would cause a rift in our relationship, and certainly not do anything to build one with this girl, who may be in my life for a long while. So, all I can do is suggest to him that he make sure they can afford to buy two more tickets. We’ll have to see.

Just random ruminations in the middle of the night. Nothing really on my mind, just clearing my head out, so I can go back to sleep. I am beginning to feel sleepy again, ready to head back to bed for a few more hours sleep. G’night all.

A Little Pain, A Little Gain

I’m sitting on my couch, with an ice pack on my shoulder, and my Christmas tree half taken down. Sucks having rhematoid arthritis. I apparently overused my shoulder somehow this morning. Driving around doing errands, paying bills, or playing the piano, or washing the leaves of my peace lily plant. I have no idea. All I know is I suddenly realized it was 1:30, and I was hungry. When I sat down to eat, I realized my shoulder was throbbing.

I don’t think it helps that I have a brace on my wrist because my wrist has been really painful for the last couple days. Now my shoulder? Come on, give me a break. I went to sleep last night with an ice pack on my wrist, and it felt better this morning. Now it’s on my shoulder. UGH.

I shouldn’t complain too much, I got a lot done. The repairman is coming to put a new icemaker in my refrigerator this afternoon. That will be nice. We’ve been taking ice from Dan’s and bringing it here, so it will be nice to have ice for the weekend.

If it gets any colder in Florida, I’ll be able to just walk outside to get my sore joints cold. It was 36° this morning here. I mean seriously, this is Florida. I have been running my heat all week. They even canceled open mic last night because it’s an outdoor venue and it was too damn cold, even with the propane heaters going. Crazy. I heard it was the coldest week here in 10 years. Last year this time I hadn’t even put on a pair of jeans yet, still in shorts and flip flops. This week, I’ve been dressing like I did up north. Which, by the way, is way the freak colder than it is here. But I was a little jealous when my son called me, asked me what the temp was here, and when I said, “46° and it’s freezing” he just had to tell me that it was 66° in Denver.

Today we’re getting up to 55° and by Sunday back in the 60’s, close to 70. That’s a good thing, because my writers group is coming over Sunday and hopefully we’ll be able to sit out on the deck. I hope this flare up of RA (the arthritis) has abated by then. It would be nice to feel good.

Still though, all that RA pain aside, I still have a wonderful life here, and pinch myself every day. The sun is shining, my son is doing well, and I am in love with an amazing man. So this little vent about the RA needs to be filed away with all those other temporary discomforts that didn’t end up meaning anything.

Love and light, all.

Be My Friend

Transport me
To a place I’ve never been
Show me
Things I’ve never seen
Teach me
Things I’ve never learned.
Tell me
Things I’ve never heard.
Touch me
Where I’ve never been touched.

Move me
With your story
Fill me
with your joy
Lean into me
With your pain
Rest on my shoulder
When you are weary of the world.

Stay in this moment with me.
Don’t look behind.
Don’t look ahead.
Let happen, what will happen.
Be my love and my friend, I’ll be yours.

 

Note:  I found this poem in my drafts.  I wrote it back when I was looking for a man like the one I found.  I guess it’s part of manifesting what I wanted, because this describes him, and us,  perfectly.

By Deborah E. Dayen