Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Threads of Fancy

Photos from Jeannie's Etsy Shop (click on picture to enlarge)

Before I disappear for a few days - a story.  I have a long time friend, Sci-Fi author Dorothy Grant a former pilot from Alaska who was a member of my bridal party (her husband, Sci-Fi author Peter Grant, a retired minister, married us).  She has an amazing group of friends. 

She told me a story about a roommate she had when she was a young woman. She showed up at her apartment one night with "Jeannie, you know how I wasn't going to Awesome Costume Ball tonight because I had to work a double shift? Work suddenly realized how much overtime I've already worked this week and let me go for the day... But I have no costume, so I just came to see you, and say hi before you have fun!"

Her roommate's response was to make her friend a meal, take a piece of string to Dot, and then turn a bolt of fabric into a rocking grunge fairy outfit.  Off the top of her head, with a pattern she designed. In a few hours. Just because Jeannie wanted Dot to be able to hang out with friends, too. These days, she's using that incredible imagination and awesome skill set to make the most amazing stuffed animals you didn't think could exist. You should check it out! (cut and paste addresses into your browser window, they are not direct links as I am not yet awake :-)


https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThreadsofFancyAK
https://threadsoffancyak.weebly.com/


Out of Office

I'm off starting a book tour and will be back in a few days! Look a Squirrel!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

For Father's Day - On Words and Dreams

Finishing a project.

Why does it seem that when we set out to do something, the actuality of it seems forever away, and when we're finished, we look back wondering how we did it at all.

Everything we touch, hold, use, or love---was once just an idea. Had the person who first envisioned that thing thought too keenly as to his or her chance of success, it may have never happened at all.

My writing started with social media, some short stories for friends, It was a way to unwind, a way to work through things that were painful, it was a way to view my life and actions as a third party, which sometimes is painful in its revealing of the past and past actions that weren't good choices.

People said "you need to write a book" and I put it off with the inevitable excuse of "after retirement". Part of it was (insert Dr. McCoy voice here "Jim - I'm a doctor, not a writer!") But honestly, the thought of actually writing an entire book was beyond daunting; it was flat out frightening.  Not just that people wouldn't like it, but whether I could actually DO it.
But with the encouragement of my husband I did it.  Not just one book, but five, all treasured by my father, as they are either non-fiction or fiction that takes place in the type of town I grew up in.

My parents fell in love as teenagers. World War II interrupted their wedding plans but they wed on his return from England, so many years later. A lot of the airmen overseas and the women left behind, took up with others, the relationship not withstanding the time and distance.  Dad certainly had a score of beautiful women present opportunities to him, from what my uncles who served with him said. But he came home and immediately married my Mom, after years apart.

He himself, tells few stories of those times. All I have of those lost years is a stack of letters, carefully held together with a ribbon.

I wrote of that in Book Two:  Saving Grace

" There underneath the photos lies a stack of letters. Mom and Dad wrote to one another for four years while he was overseas, not returning Stateside once during that entire time. Reading them feels a little like eavesdropping, as you can almost hear the words as they formed---heartfelt, intimate. I opened one; it was just one single page, and I thought of the way their day stopped at the brink of it. In these letters bridging the time and distance they had to be apart, there was talk of how much they missed one another; of how their families were faring; of good coffee and how Dad missed vegetables from the farm; of burning heat and a cold on the field that would murmur to your very bones. There was playful affection, there was unstated passion and stated promise. Some were in Mom's flowery script, the rest in Dad's meticulous, indomitable hand. "Is everyone there well?" Mom would ask, and Dad would reply that they were, though some were now only well beyond Lamentations."
Barkley waiting for his dad to come home

Dad never imagined that he would not come back, he never told himself that they would not be married, would not have children, would not make a life.  Even in times of great battle he held the final prize in his hand, never doubting that it would come to be.

He watched over that dream as our Father in heaven watches over us, his creation shaped out of the primal absolute that contained nothing and all, knowing we are equally as capable of being ruined and being saved, but believing we will be saved, as to believe anything else is to perish.

We all have our dreams, just as we all have our fears.  My husband was, and is, a gifted musician, a prodigy as a youngster. He performed with a symphony orchestra in Austria before he was 18, offered a scholarship to study music.

He wanted to be an engineer.

He still plays, well enough to make me cry.  But his passion is creating---inventing things out of form and void, and steel and noise, things that touch his brain and his heart---for what the heart holds becomes our only truth.
I talk to my father every night, there in his dwindling days.  He has done a lot to be proud of: Golden Glove Boxer, retired Air Force Lt.  Colonel, manager in a large industrial company, past Secretary and President of the Lion's Club,  a Freemason and father.  I asked him if he had any regrets, things he wished he had done.  I asked, not to remind him of regrets, but to see what in his mind's eye is important, looking back almost 100 years.

What he said was his regret was.  "that time in my 20's I spent $5 on hair tonic to grow hair from the bald barber", and he chuckled.

What he said he was most happy for surprised me until I understood what it meant.

Dad had a wonderful marriage with my step-mom in his later years.  We all thought the world of her, and he genuinely loved her. But as he nears his end days, it's the photos of my Mom that have come out of drawers and sit on the table by his bed. So I was at first taken aback when he said "I'm glad I loved and lost Gracie" (my mom)

But it was not because he was the one that physically remained after she died, but because he was glad that he had followed his heart, not his good sense. Because if he had not, she would not have become the one he had to grieve over, because he chose to abandon the idea of them.
Abby, our senior rescue with her new Dad


Those of us who have lost our precious furry family members understand.  Though we hate that deep hurt of loss when it is their time to leave us, we have no regrets about the months or years with that soul, if offered a choice now to change the experience.  So many precious memories, so much love, we would not have experienced if we'd not dare to dream that dream, of making them part of our lives.

So as you look around your life this day- think to things you'd like to hold onto, picture flesh and blood, wood or glass, cat or dog, paper or plastic.  Do not think about all you will risk to get it. Do not think about how long it might take, or even if it will be what you expected.  Do not think about what happens if you get it and lose it one day. Do not ask if others will like it--- but only that you will like it.

I look at a photo of my parents on their wedding day.  Dad in uniform, my Mom wearing a beautiful dark suit.  They look both innocent and immortal, even if slightly amazed to be saying those vows. Best friends since sixth grade, they were in their mid-twenties before fate was such that they could be joined.
On my table is a violin, worth ten's of thousands of dollars.  I carefully put it away, for in a couple of hours my husband will be home and that table will be littered with all manner of tooling bits and mechanical drawings and plans. They will lie next to a small pile of books to be autographed and mailed for a dog auction and as well as all the many books I'm enjoying reading now that I've taken a break from being a published writer. All of those things are objects that print the often silent mold of our dreams and desires, as easy to be ignored as small fairy feet, when they are magic indeed.

Close your eyes and dream your dream---then make it real.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday Smiles


 Tried to use the panorama function on the camera.  Made a dogerpiller.







Thursday, June 13, 2019

No More Hammers!


The new roof is on the house.  After two days (interruption due to rain), the dogs are very happy with the quiet.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

For:


Little Prince lived alone on a tiny planet no larger than a house.. . .

The suitcase is empty, but it is not. There in the bottom, a small piece of paper with some writing on it.  I read it and I smile.

The bag's opened up, some toiletries spread around the hotel bathroom.  Another day on the road.  I guess the wandering spirit runs in my blood, passed on my from Air Force father to me. Seems like ever since I got a control yoke in my hand I've been wandering across miles of land, across rivers and towns in whatever way I can, be it dromedary-like transport plane, raggedly land rover or swayback mule.

I have an anchor, over time it's been a large house, a small house, it's been simply a suitcase and someone I love.  But when I'm there, I am thoroughly happy, for that anchor, instead of being confinement, is simply the base from which I move, a fulcrum that amplifies the effects of my motion, the beat of my heart.

St. Expurey said, "he who would travel happily must travel light". And so I did, the earliest memories little more than the remembered feel of the starched uniform shirt I wore, the dense oily smell of jet fuel lingering on the tongue like smoke. It seems as if all my early years were reflected in the window of those moving airplanes. I see my reflection, my past, through bug splayed glass that tinted the world bright.


The airplane, the destination and the years changed, as did the landscape of my career, but some things never changed. Days in an airplane traveling far. Miles and hours spent watching the landscape, silver grain elevators, red-winged birds, mountains formed of ice and fluid need, and rivers without borders, all blending into a bright diorama of life racing past. The world looks different from above, clouds massive and dark, looming up like a target in a gun sight, looking twice the size of an ordinary man.

I have spent half of my life it seems, on the way to somewhere. I have watched a hundred cumulus clouds erupt, the mass assassination of mayflies and the disappearance of a slice of cherry pie at a tiny airport diner and the journey was only beginning.


In each day comes another opportunity for adventure. The ride to the hotel was something to remember, in and of itself. A shuttle service, stopping at several hotels on the way. The driver, sullen and demonstrating why driving was his second language. You know how when most people drive, certainly professional drivers, they brake using an increase in pressure on the brake pedal so as to come to a smooth stop. Not Mr. Shuttle. The only brake technique he used was to stomp on the brake, let up, let the car roll, stomp again. It would take four or five of these stomps to equal one normal braking action. No traffic, heavy traffic, it made no difference.

I started to feel like a bobble head doll and the 25 dollars I saved over a taxi was starting to look like one of those small decisions that had great, oversized repercussions. But perhaps I should have been more patient. I guess it was hard to concentrate on braking when one is texting while driving in heavy traffic.

I simply made sure my seatbelt was fastened and then bent down as if into a stiff wind, horns of the impatient exploding into the rain-split asphalt that opened and closed with opportunity. Like all traffic in big cities, we carried on, sharp with speed, and then trickling to a standstill, the road dipping into the fog, like a hand cleaving water, the headlights showing the grey bulk of streams of cars coming down the hill like rain.

When the last guest got off and it was just me, he quit texting and had a series of increasingly heated exchanges in his mother tongue with his dispatcher about how he only got 47 US dollars in fares for this trip and he wanted to get a number one spot when he got back to the airport. (Actually, sir, you got 68 dollars in fares, one that you did not log and pocketed. I notice things like that.)

The arguing got more heated. I am not fluent in languages. I can simply listen and relate small things in a number of languages that come in handy, Russian, Chinese, Farsi, just enough to know when it's a good time to get out of Dodge or when happy hour is almost over. It comes in handy, the knowing, the looking, I think, as I catch quick glimpses of other drivers in the failing sunlight, faces fixed and grim as they fought to get upstream.


The van driver, still yelling into the phone while almost whacking several people on bicycles,  finally stopped in front of my hotel. I paid him the fare plus a 15 percent tip. He did NOT look happy, expecting much more from the American Redhead in nice clothes.

He muttered something under his breath about what he had to do to get a big tip, and I replied -

Вам надо научиться использовать торможения.

He was still standing there, mouth agape when I went up to my suite.



But I had arrived. The hotel bulked long and dark against the city sky, but inside was golden warmth, a bite of fresh apple, a much-needed bottle of water. Sitting still for a minute taking care of the aching neck and soon it was time to meet my partner for this assignment while we went over notes for tomorrow's business over a light meal.

After a short walk back to the hotel, my partner making sure I got to my room safely, I made a couple phone calls to loved ones, wanting to let them know I was in and safe. My Dad always worries when I travel, even when I don't tell him where I'm going.  So do friends, and I try and keep in touch. Then I took a long bath in a tub so deep you could hide a Mastodon in it and slept until it was 6:30 in the morning. Unfortunately, it was 6:30 in the morning where I wanted to be, not where I was at.

So I got up and made coffee and watched a stain of light snare itself between steel and rain, spreading until the stain grew light and the light became morning.


By choice or not, travel is part of my life.  But travel brings something to you that people who live in the insular world of their home town their whole lives may miss. It pushes your boundaries. When you travel, you can become invisible, if that is what you choose. I like that. I like to be a quiet observer. Walking alone along the edge of another ocean, as it stretches away into space with its illusion of freedom. Strolling through the celestial hush of a square that has seen generation after generation, the sun glinting off marble where the monotonous rain has washed it bright. What stories would that old building tell, what makes these people who they are?

You don't have to understand the language that is spoken, only the language of the streets, the scents, the stone. Without understanding a word around you the language becomes simply a musical background for watching the water flow onto the shore or a leaf blowing in the wind, calling nothing from you.

You may have work that takes much of your time, yet still, in this strange place, there are hours open to you.  You don't have a lawn to mow or bills to pay.  There is only life, as simple and inescapable as an empty hallway, where you can leave behind for a moment, the burdens that you freely assume and carry as bright and ambitiously as brass. For this moment you are simply a creature of choice, free to visit stately buildings, savor a cup of coffee or simply go watch the trains. You're open, if only for this moment, as a child to receive all of the world, not just your own.

It is all there for the taking, multicolored flowers in bright density, the smell of fresh bread baking, laid out like fabric on the ground which you pick up and wrap around you, drawing in a breath through the scented cloth. This fabric, this essence of a place, that contains both the dead and the living, the blooms of lush flower, the decay of a building, the smells that are both the death and the birth of a city. You are a historian, you are a hunter free to explore and seek and find and then return home bringing memories to lay on your doorstep.
From the memories come words.  They may be only in your head, they may be on paper.  But they tell a story, one composed of past journeys on ancient rails washed clean by wind and rain and tempered by time, written to the mournful sound of a train whistle echoing through ancient memories and newfound dreams.  The words strung out like cars, beyond which wait the world and life, hope unrestrained and incontrovertible.  They recall the memory of it all, moving fast now, wind rushing past like flood, leaving you breathless.

The suitcase is open on a simple wooden stand. It is empty, but in it there is so much, the smell of crushed sage as I bounced across the desert in a jeep, the wood smoked burnt woods of autumn, the smell that is untouched ground after a rain, the rich earthy scent of something being lit that had for so long been cold.
Love - Brigid

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Zoomies!

Larelei did zoomies for the first time! (click on the link to view).  Five and a half years living in a tiny pen to have puppies, it was a sight to behold.

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPFdEidUHXXwMxbz1DiYJxi08weE_nUMA8h_RTuzQhvf9Ug2xxYqqQ7VYL7UXvi_Q?key=clVmTDhFYTJhencxS2tDemltVHRXSlVPU2NvUWFR

Books and Barkley

Well - Half Price Books IS on the drive home.

The end of a long week and some great surprises. And not just these little finds, the one below only $3.
I got everyone's books out that sent money for an autographed copy and to those of you on a limited budget that just kindly requested a book.

But what was really wonderful was all the handwritten notes in the requests, from a couple of people who comment that I know, and others that may or may not be bloggers, perhaps just readers.
The kind words and appreciation for my daily meanderings here moved me to tears. That my efforts here, these thoughts and pictures have meant so much to so many of you, and have become a daily part of your lives, as some of you said, means the world to me.  Your support online has brought me a great deal of joy and comfort in these many months since I lost both my brother and my Lab Barkley at the same time.

But there was another surprise, in a box, from a blog name I recognize.  It was not a request for a book, just simply a little gift, to brighten my world found at a thrift shop and mailed off to me. He lapped up the coins, but needed a little coaxing.  Inside, a planetary gearbox was found to have slipped off a shaft.  That was fixed and Whoa Nellie - that Barkly the Banker can eat some coins!

Barkly the Banker. 
(this is from youtube, as my own movie efforts didn't turn out so well).

You put coins in his dish and he gobbles them up as they disappear into the bank below..

It still is making me laugh. Thank you U.!