This is Max. Who seems to think he is going to win the war for the couch. I lay down, scooting him off or attempting to share. He moves grudgingly, leaving to crouch on the floor with his back to me, waiting for me to get up. As soon as I do, he is back, curled up in my residual body heat before I’ve even taken two steps. I get a drink or go to the bathroom or get my other glasses or grab the fuzzy blanket and come back to start the cycle again. As of this photograph, we’ve done this dance four times this afternoon.
The house is quiet. The coffee has the perfect amount of Bailey’s in it. The cats are watching the birds outside the window. Keith is in his office. And the sun is coming up in a clear sky.
It’s an auspicious beginning to the new year. I am warm and safe in our yellow house, surrounded by everything and everyoneI love. Well, not everyone. Family is still too far away, and friends are in lockdown. So it’s not perfect.
Five years ago, I was in school. My project beer, a chai spiced English old ale, was fermenting away. The end of school was in sight, and I was becoming increasingly anxious about finding work. Who wants to hire and old broad?
Four years ago, I was employed. Magnotta hired the old broad. I got to work with people who made me laugh, and others who did not.
Three years ago, I was in Australia, cruising the Ocean Road in a convertible with my best friend. I was getting ready to start work at Side Launch when I got back to Ontario.
Two years ago, I was settling in at Side Launch, finally. I’d found a rhythm, a groove. My chai spiced porter was brewed and in the fermenter.
One year ago, I was reeling from the unexpected, getting fired/laid off/packaged out/ whatever you want to call it.
Today, I am gimping around on a broken ankle, but working in a place that is stable, and does not seem like they are going to let me go anytime soon. I was afraid while I was at home, feeling like they would get rid of me before my probationary period is over. But no, I got sick days, and paid for most of it.
ugh. There was a point to this when I wrote it in my head at work. It’s gone.
Delight in the sight of bright yellow goldfinches eating beet leaves.
Delight in the sound of a hummingbird coming to the freshly filled feeder.
Delight in the white and tan cows ambling across the field.
Delight in the cricket noise.
Delight in the smell of the tomatoes on your fingers.
Delight in the cool breeze that’s blowing the smoke tree blooms around the lawn like little tumbleweeds.
Delight in the two pawpaw seedlings pushing up in the pot.
Delight in the calming sight of a cat sleeping in the sun.
Delight in the fact that this is where we live now.
Delight in the fact that this is definitely not Toronto.
Firefly Creative Writing asked the question, “what is your ideal writing space.
There were already some comments when I sat the post. A villa in Tuscany, a pristine empty desk (I’m not sure what that is either), a special room.
I didn’t want to sound like that person when I said that my ideal space is the one I have, but it’s true. I mean, look at this:
A space for writing by hand or by keyboard. A mason jar full of pens, another with a beeswax candle from Janine, a bigger one filled with seashells. A cupboard for the journals, prompts and talismans. An antique tin gifted to me by Amy, just the right size for all of the Hello Writer prompts and self care cards.
And that view waiting for me when I look up from the page.
What the what. I am having a really hard time getting my shit together the last few days. Is it the weather, grey and damp? Have I hit a wall? Or have I had too much sleep? Words aren’t coming and my brain feels soft and spongy.
I look around and think, I should be writing, I should get the beans out of the garden, I should do yoga or go for a walk. I should finish the rag dolls I cut out, I should embroider some bookmarks like I’ve planned. I should finish my coffee and close the window against the soft rain that just started. I should brush my teeth and have a shower.
Instead I stare blankly out the window at the rain, count my chin hairs over and over, and develop a deep dislike of the word should.
I started the 100 day project again without really thinking about it. I could not tell you how or why I arrived at the embroidery, but that’s what I did. It originally started ask an idea for an abstract design, but it took a life of its own, become a diary of sorts.
I lagged a few days, and through about quitting it a few more. But i always caught up, and posted. I gave myself permission for it to be crappy, and a fair number of the circles were. Wonky stitches, skipped spaces, no plan. A few I thought about picking out and starting again. But I left them as is. And something interesting happened in that – my inner editor/critic was silenced.
I still posted the crappy ones, which was really hard the first few times for the usual reasons – nothing breaks a carefully curated social media image like the shit of reality, right? Not that mine was especially careful in its curation, but I have been known to adjust positions and fix lighting.
That gave way to the July NaNoWriMo project. There was a plan sort of. And I wrote/am writing. It’s not nearly a s good as the original short story, or some of the things I’ve written in retreats. But it definitely good as shitty first draft material. Already I can see that some of it is too long, doesn’t fit either in style or character. But there are nuggets there for directions i may not have found as i dreamt it and wrote a perfect draft in my head over the next millennia that I don’t have.
Like the 100 Day Project, a bunch of mismatched poorly crafted pieces can come together to become more than the sum of it’s parts.
Keeping sane with Firefly Creative Writing…
Once upon a time, there was a couple who lived in an apartment in the city. One was happy, he loved living in the city, and one was unhappy because she could no longer find a quiet still place to go anymore.
then one day, like a lightning bolt from the sky, she realized all she had to do was open her mouth and tell her partner, this does not make me happy, I need to leave the city.
So they talked about it and made a plan. They carefully decided where to go, and searched for a place to live. It took a while, but they finally found the perfect house out in the country. They were both very happy on the day they got the key.
Later, after they had moved in, they sat around the fire pit early one evening, watching the flames in companionable silence, listening to the wind in the trees. The woman smiled to herself as a huge bumblebee bumped into her leg as it buzzed past.
They would live happily ever after here.
Writing last night. I didn’t really want to be there, really. I didn’t bail though. Who knows what epiphanies I would miss, what would spark from someone else’s prose. It wasn’t easy. My internet was messed up, with just enough of a delay that made responding to anyone awkward, that after I read something the pause was long enough to make me think that it was crap, no one liked it and was trying to think of something good to say. (I know that’s not so, its just my brain being an asshole).
I did a fuck poem from one of the photo prompts. The photo was of what looked like embroidery or stitching, white/cream on a rust red background saying what fuckery is this. There were other pictures that called me, a river, a graffiti’d blue door set in old stonework, but I went with the fuckery, so I could write a fuck poem.
And for the first time, the fuck poem was very unsatisfying. It felt obvious. Instead of being a cathartic purge of the negatives, it only seemed to highlight them, and make them sink deeper into my skin, to become more real.
Fuck that Shit. (See what I did there)
I’m going to switch it up for a while, to write delight poems. Look away from all the little things that annoy and anger. Look towards those things that will help bring a lightness of being, that will make me smile and feel ready to combat the dark.
Delight x 19
Delight in the forsythia cuttings flowering as they take root in the green room.
Delight in the taste of sourdough French toast made by my dearest love, topped with maple syrup, berries and whipped cream.
Delight in the blue blue sky visible between the clouds scudding by.
Delight in the shimmer of glitter dust as it swirls around in a glass of Pilsner, giving the beer life and dimension.
Delight in the silence of the house, so quiet I can hear the soft snore of a sleeping cat.
Delight in the warmth inside.
Delight in the garden, in the alienness of the rhubarb unfurling itself pink stalk by pink stalk, each containing a knob of wrinked green leaf that slowly stretches to catch the sun.
Delight in a new writing space neither inside nor outside, but in a liminal loveliness where I can be in the outdoors without black flies and mosquitoes.
Delight in the garden taking shape under our hands, the overgrown thickets cut back and replanted, restoring an order that is pleasing to us.
Delight in the hammock outside under the magnolia tree.
Delight in the goldfinches, now almost fully yellow again, swooping and diving around the back.
Delight in the ominous grace of the turkey vultures soaring in the updrafts.
Delight in the little purple flowers that spill over the flower bed on the east side of the house, and pop up all over the lawn.
Delight in the first dandelions, yellow and bright.
Delight in the tight bud of a red tulip.
Delight in soft alpaca yarn running between my fingers as I knit, taking shape into a wide shawl to wrap around my shoulders against the spring chill.
Delight in the 100 Day Project progress, embroidered circles containing small benchmarks. This is not what I planned but it has morphed into something I need, not unlike the origins of the photo-a-day project.
Delight in the taste of a Hermit cookie, subtle spices and sweetness and memories of childhood and another little yellow house.
Delight in the how my body responds to manual labour, muscles easing and contracting as I shovel dirt from the trailer to the rock garden, the warmth and smoothness of the shovel handle in my hands.