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.
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.
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.
My first thought when Chris said what poem she was reading for the first Morning Coffee Session write was, “oh no that one.” Wild Geese is not my favourite Mary Oliver poem. But as with all things Firefly, I seem to get what I need at the right moment.
Meanwhile the world goes on. Those five words turned into these words.
The forsythia taking root is ready to bloom, long skinny buds ready to burst into joyous yellow. It doesn’t care that humanity is losing its shit.
The red-winged blackbirds and sparrows and robins and grackles trill and swoop around, finding food and building nests, completely unaware that there is a shortage of toilet paper and all purpose flour.
A small brown rabbit eases across the yard, nosing aside the greening grass to get at any seeds scattered by the chickadees at the feeder. He has no knowledge of mass graves in New York City.
But I know these things, and more. And each thing pricks with a small pang of anxiety and steals a little more calm until I can’t get off the couch. Again.
But. But but but.
Not everything has to be seen, to be witnessed. No one is forcing me to be immersed in the collective grief and uncertainty. I can turn away from that which is so anxiety-inducing, and should not feel guilty for it. I can turn off the TV, the radio, the internet, and go sit in the green room taking delight in the sunshine, birdsong, the little purple flowers on the lawn and the look of words written in cherry-blossom pink ink. I can be grateful, so grateful, for the good fortune that led us to this place, acknowledge our privilege, and help those I can how I can when I can.
We are such a blip, an eye blink sized slice of time in the history of the world, this last month even less so. It’s good for me to remember this. Meanwhile, the world moves on.
our shapes are blurring under miracles of snow. ~ Faded Flowers, Shriekback
I want to write this scene, but I’m suddenly overcome by a fear that I can’t do justice to it. (May as well just not rather than do a shit job, the voice says). I follow the thread of it and find a link to the many instances lately where my confidence has deserted me. The thought, I can’t do anything right is in my head a lot it seems. A one-two punch of the Side Launch “restructuring” (it’s me, no matter what they say, it’s me, I wasn’t enough, the evil voice says) and all that goes on at the ski club (you are utterly useless, says the voice).
I fucking hate that voice. Why am I listening to it? It will never help me do anything with my one wild and precious life. In fact, it will do the opposite.
so fuck it. Here goes.
The morning is glorious, as only bright winter mornings can be. I can tell by Keith’s tire tracks on the driveway that another few centimetres of snow fell last night, adding to the many centimetres that had fallen in the last few days, enough snow to smooth over the footprints to the bird feeder. Our shapes are blurring under miracles of snow, a line from a Shirekback song I love springs unbidden to mind. I whisper it to the birds. They continue fluttering and cheeping around the bird feeder, paying me no mind as I stand at the living room picture window.
The snow looks smooth, but there are blue shadows that soften along the curves of the earth showing small imperfections, dimples and ridges. The crisp angular shadows cast by the trees is a sharp contrast to the contouring.
The trees, oh the trees. They are truly stunning right now. They still have a coating of ice left from the ice storm a week ago, and the sun is turning every twig, every branch into a crystal that reflects and refracts the sunshine. The pines, boughs sweeping low, seem like dark serene sentinels against this brilliance.
A slight breeze, not enough to make the pine branches move but enough to start the ice-covered birch saplings to sway ponderously, picks up light snow of the branches so that it slowly sifts to the ground.
The sky is cloudless, and is the cool pale blue only found in mid-winter, a gradient from an almost white to a soft loveliness of robin’s egg.
It is beautiful; we live in a place where winter is winter.
Good lord, ready to bail on this already. A whole new record for me. Usually I can keep the enthusiasm going for at least a week.
I am not going to bail. Not sure what I’m going to write about.
Today I could write about how I am trying to feel a slight sore throat and not think, strep throat. I could write about how spazzy I felt all day and how I hit my goram head three bloody times. I could write about how some people turn lovely with age, and how others show their bitterness and snark in every line on their face. I could write about how often lately I’ve been thinking about calling a doctor. I could write about how Keith greets me with tea, and will make dinner while I have a bath, and how much more grateful I am to have him in my life than I have ever been before. I could write about learning a new cast-off stitch for the shrug that might actually look good enough the first try that I won’t have to frog it. Or I could write about the lovely the light looks at this time of night, almost golden hour but now yet.
But I think I’ll go to bed instead. I’m going in an hour earlier tomorrow so I can head to Stratford with Keith in the afternoon and have good Thai food (hey, I’ll do what it takes for a date night).
There were two prompts really… One, writer self-care, was to write in a place you don’t usually write, notice the difference in self and mood. I took myself to the river, to the place where the fishermen’s have trampled the grass and left me a place to sit, and the river runs a bit deeper and slower.
The other, the writing prompt, was about what do we carry with us, what is in out pockets or purse. The only thing i really carry in my pockets are work related (knife, phone, paper scraps, malt bag strings), so I’m using the far more interesting talismans I carry in my messenger bag.
The first is an oracle coin; hamsas, clouds and the word YES on one side, a winged skeleton and the word NO on the other. It’s big and weighty, like two toonies weighty. Substantial. I don’t use it often, but I like having it for when I want to put some randomness into my life.
The other is a tiny version of the Travellers Notebook, released for their 10th anniversary. I refused to buy a tin at $40, but bought two at $10. Once I put it together, I got caught in my what if I wreck it what if I run out of pages, it needs to be perfect loop of inaction. After staring at it for months, I hand wrote the Laughing Heart poem by Charles Bukowski in it. It’s my reminder to live my best badass life.
The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski
your life is your life don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission. be on the watch. there are ways out. there is light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness. be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them. you can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes. and the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be. your life is your life. know it while you have it. you are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you. — by Charles Bukowski