Monday, November 30, 2015

Nanowrimo - 30 Days hath November

I did it - I wrote a novel this month - 50371 words.  Now the fun of editing begins. 

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 30:

It had all started with White Rabbit, and her belief that two words could help her.  And maybe it had.  After all, she had said those two words, and look how far she had come this month.  She had even reduced those pink and grey pills to half the dose, and except for that migraine earlier in the month she had felt strong and healthy these past thirty days.

She had done the whole ruchshau submerged under the water.  She never could do it ‘properly’.  She started to go backwards in order but then the month had come flooding back on her.  She had been submerged for some time, her lungs were aching, it would be so simple to just inhale a teaspoon of water.

Her husband had been calling and calling her that the coffee was ready.  He finally tapped on the door, a little panicked.  She heard his voice.  She loved his voice.  She always had.  She often joked with him that if they were separated he just needed to call her on the phone, and she would fall in love all over again.

She came up out of the water with a huge intake of air.  Like a newborn taking that first breath immediately after birth.  She assured him she was fine, and would be out shortly.
She stood up and started the shower, not for once feeling guilty about how much water she was using this morning. 

She thought of that poem:
30 days hath November,
April June and September,
All the rest have 31
Excepting February with 28 days clear
And 29 on every leap year.

Except she had started it wrong – she had said 30 days hath November.
It really went '30 days hath September'.but the way she recited it was perfect, for today. 

30 days.

She had come so far in these 30 days.

And when she woke up tomorrow morning she knew exactly what her first two words would be. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nanowrimo - Dear God

48,577 words in - almost there.

Dear God,

I visited your house today.  I was afraid you wouldn’t be there after all this time, but you were.  You are always there.
I spoke the corporate confession and was disturbed by the lines “we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.”.
By what we have done, and by what we have left undone”. I remembered a book a priest-friend had written entitled Disturbed by God.  I finally understand the feeling.

I have been leaving many things undone for some time. 

And I realize that that has been a good thing.  I had thought I was weak because I wasn’t following through on my plans, but now I see that you, and my angels have been hard at work – disturbing my plans. 

You have been giving me patient hands.  You have been helping me to watch and wait, and not to be rash and do something I cannot undo. 

And, I realize, you have tried to come at me in different ways, less obvious ways, not so churchy ways.
The tarot, the horoscope, yoga, the lunches with old friends, the swimming, the fairy tales, the poetry – all of it was you trying to steer me to safer ground.

And you have.  You have not forsaken me, not even when I forsake you. 
And for that I am glad.
So here is my vow.
My to-do list as it were:
Tomorrow I will call the doctor and I will agree to see the new psychiatrist and try some new medications.
Tomorrow I will call my sister.
Tomorrow I will talk to my husband.
Tomorrow I will promise that there will be more tomorrows.
They will involve swimming and yoga, friends and walking, knitting and tea, my children and my husband.
They will involve you, and sometimes church.   And my angels.
Tomorrow I will get up and do my chores like it is any other day.  I will feed the cat, annoying as he is, and I will look forward.
Tomorrow I promise that any to-do list I make will be about going forward.
After all, it is the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent is the root of the word adventure.  This life, my life, is an adventure – for all its ups and downs and downs and downs.  Still and all it is an adventure.

This I promise, so help me God.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nanowrimo - Flying

I wrote this years ago because I was asked to tell a story about rocks at an advent assembly.  I used it as the starting point of Chapter 28.   

She awoke to the telephone ringing pulling her quickly out of sleep.  Her heart was pounding, but it quickly settled when she heard her son’s voice cheerfully greeting her, and the day. 
The had a long chat, about Thanksgiving, about a camping trip he was going on, about this and that.  He often called on the weekends, but it had been a few weeks since they had connected.
After hanging up she thought about a story she had writing years ago – a legend she had told at a school assembly.  While the coffee was brewing she dug around in her study and found it.  She read it, stopping to wipe the tears that would well, and then spill down her cheeks.

Everything that lives wants to fly,
A Mohawk friend said to me 
One winter afternoon
As we watched grosbeaks take seeds,
Fluttering close to our eyes.
Those were dinosaurs once, he said,

But they made a bargain.
They gave up that power in return for the sky.  (Feathers by Joseph Bruchac)

She had lived with that poem all her life. All her life she had dreamed she could fly. And the dreams were so real, that every morning when she awoke for a split second she forgot it was a dream. And in the next second was the disappointment that she could not, in fact, fly.

All her life she had been bound to the earth, to the hard rock that covered the land she lived on. Her home was by the sea, a sea, that although it’s name meant Peaceful, could be stormy, harsh, unforgiving and angry. The waves would crash against the stony coast land. A coast land that was jagged, like the coast of Finland, like the coast that was said to have been made by the shoulders, and arms and neck of a giantess who was so tired of swimming.

She had grown up on that rocky coast. Running over the barnacled rocks with her bare feet, calloused and cut numerous times. She had fallen on those rocks so often, bandaged knees were the norm. Her mother dabbing the blood with a soft cotton cloth as she picked out the shells and pebbles before bandaging her up yet again. She loved those rocky beaches, she always had rocks in her pockets, or on her bedside table, or on the kitchen window sill.

She had met her son’s father on another beach not so far away. A beach where large basalt, six-sided formations rose as cliffs against the ‘not so peaceful’ sea. He was a scientist. He was older than she was. He knew so much about the rocks that she had taken for granted all her life. She loved him, And she loved those rocks, she did. But sometimes, she still dared to look to the sky.

As often happens in stories such as this, love stories, a son was soon born to her. A son with eyes as blue as the sky that domed the ocean, and a will as strong as the rocks that surrounded her.

And so her life went on and she raised her son to be a strong young man. She grew older, and weary, and forgot about flying - she let her dreams go. She just kept her feet on the ground, on those rocks, and kept her eyes on the sea - in case it would decide to lash out at her and steal those she loved so much.

She shared her name with another young woman who had lived a long time past. She too had a son, she too had married a man older than her. Sometimes she wondered if that ‘Mary’ had ever dreamed of flying. She had only heard stories of her adult life, homeless, scared, blessed, mournful.

Her son knew her well. He would see the far off look in her eyes when she talked of her youth, of the rocks, and the sea, He too shared his father’s scientific mind, and he too wanted to show her the magic and mystery of these giant rocks that have stood for millions of years. For him rocks were a freedom, for he understood that rocks could help you to fly.

Come, he said, one late summer afternoon. Let’s walk. Let’s go on a hike. There is something I want to show you. He had a gift for her. And so they walked. Up. Up the backside of a huge granite column. It rose six hundred and fifty metres above them, the trail slowly zig-zagging its way up and up and up. Above the tree line, above the ‘not so peaceful’ ocean, above and away from her rock bound life. On the ascent she could only feel the rock beneath her feet, the scrap on her knee from a tumble, the cool rock on her hands as she supported herself through thin crevices, the hot rocks as she scrambled up the last few metres.

They reached the top. A plateau. Flat, and warm. Isolated and still. A chipmunk welcomed her by running up to her and perching on her ankle. She felt like a small girl again. A great raven flew over her head, so close she could hear the whoosh of air in its mighty wings. She could look right into its eye as it flew past her. She remembered her dream. She remembered the words of her Mohawk friend. So did her son.

Come, he said. Come to the edge. Kneel down. Crawl forward. Push yourself out over the edge. So she bellied out until her chest, her shoulders, her arms, and her head were jutting out over the edge. Six hundred and fifty metres above the sea. The sides fell away so steeply she could not see them.

Put out you arms, he said. Look up, he said. She put out her arms. She looked up. The warmth of the great stone under her belly and her hips secured her to the earth, but she felt like she was flying. She soared with the raven. She felt like she was flying. Her dream had not died after all.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nanowrimo - Black Friday

Three days  and 5000 words left....oh my!

Today was Friday.  Technically it was Black Friday.  The first shopping day after American Thanksgiving when stores are supposedly finally in the black for the year.  Two thoughts always bothered her.  One that you would run a business in the red for almost eleven months hoping that the month before Christmas the sales would bail you out.  Two, that it did. 

The shopping frenzy, the Christmas buying, would start in earnest now.  All the commercials and ads, and all the stores full of glitz and garbage.  Buy me.  Buy me.

She hated it.
She put on the radio, and listened to the report about border line-ups due to the myriad of frenzied shoppers.  She also got the tail end of the report citing black ice on the road and the forecast of snow for later in the month. 

She had a minor headache, thanks to the second glass of wine, and then, checking the calendar, realized she had an appointment to get her snow tires put on. 
Well, that’s thinking ahead, she thought.  Good for me.
She didn’t want to go out in the Black Friday madness, but there it was on the calendar.  Tires.  11:30

She didn’t remember making the appointment.  It didn’t even look like her handwriting, but the often happened – depending on her mood her handwriting could look like it was written by someone else.  Sometimes it looked like her mother’s, or brother’s, or husband’s, and sometimes like no-one she had ever met. 
She got dressed, looked in the mirror, and decided she could hide her messy hair under a toque.  It was cold out so toque and mitts were the order of the day. 

She grabbed her knitting.  She would have to wait for the tires, and didn’t want to feel compelled to browse the shelves of the near-by box store just to pass the time. 

Her tires were already loaded into the back of her car.  Had she done that?  Was she losing her mind? 

As she drove out to her appointment she noticed all the huge signs for Black Friday events.  Black Friday Sales.  Black Friday Week. 

She remembered a horrible incident a number of years back where shoppers had stampeded at the opening of the doors on a Black Friday sale event, and people had been killed.  Killed!  Just in order to be first to a door-crasher sale. 

People would line up overnight for some of these sales.  Forget Thanksgiving dinner, they would choose to pitch tents, crawl inside sleeping bags, and wait for the next day’s doors to open.  She knew people that would do the same on Christmas night so they would be the first in line for Boxing Day sales. 

So much for Christmas spirit. 

As she always did, when it was cold like this, she thought of the homeless, and how they managed to stay warm on nights when the temperature dropped into the negative numbers.  Of course, some didn’t, and the news was full of stories of overflowing shelters and the need for warm woolens. 
Every year she would take socks and blankets and hats down to the mission to do the little that she could.
It was never enough. 

She pulled into the parking lot, and was glad she had an appointment because the lot was full with Black Friday shoppers.  She pulled into the bay, and spoke to the service manager.  He poured her a coffee and showed her the waiting area. 

The ubiquitous television was on – to a news channel, always to a news channel, and she tried to find a seat that wasn’t impacted by the noise.  It wasn’t possible.  The coffee tasted horrible so she just put it down, and left it untouched for the rest of her wait. 

She had brought a lace shawl to work on, which was silly because it required focus and concentration which was difficult in a place where there was lots of comings and goings, and distractions. 

Never-the-less, here she was, and here was her knitting, so she made the best of it. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nanowrimo - Thanksgiving

An excerpt - Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers to the south!

As they sat down for dinner she thought of all the television movies she had seen that had focused around Thanksgiving dinners.  The hostess always seemed to give a heartfelt thanksgiving toast that ensured there would not be a dry eye at the table, or among the viewers.
She wished she could do this tonight, but she knew from past experience that whenever she tried she would choke up. 

So tonight she just raised her glass and thanked them all for coming. 

But then?  Then he suggested they go around the table and say what they were thankful for.  Nothing elaborate he said.  Just a word or two.

So they did.  He started saying he was thankful for his children, then the next was thankful for the pension they had just begun to receive.  Another was thankful for sunny days, and another for being accepted into a training program.  One of the guests jokingly said they were thankful for this home-cooked meal, and the person to her left said they were thankful for the peace they experienced. 

And then it was her turn. 
“I am thankful it is not November 30th today. 

She then quickly raised her glass and they toasted Thanksgiving.  There were a few puzzled looks around the table, but she kept her head down and began to eat.  It was delicious, if she did say so herself, even the brussels sprouts. She had a second glass of wine.  She knew she would pay for it tomorrow, but tonight it seemed like the right, and only, thing to do. 

By eleven all the guests had left – for some it was a workday tomorrow. 

She did the dishes.  She liked this part after a dinner party when she filled the sink with warm soapy water and reflected on the evening while she washed and dried and set everything to right again.  The morning after a dinner party she liked to walk into a clean kitchen, make coffee, and relax into the memories of the night before. 

She headed to bed just after midnight.  The cat was no-where to be found what with his earlier bath and then all the people invading his space.  She knew he would forgive her by the time his stomach reminded him he had missed a meal. 

Suddenly she remembered the quote – It was attributed to Winston Churchill, of all people, “When you are going through Hell, keep going.”  Yes, that was it.  She didn’t need Google after-all.    It was a blessing and a curse to have been an English Literature major all those years ago. 

Another quote came into her brain – the squirrel was active tonight. 

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It wasn’t rage she needed, and it wasn’t acceptance.  What was it?

She lay in the darkness and started to give thanks, saying what she wished she had said at the dinner table, and after she was finished she recalled the line from Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

She wasn’t sure why Dylan Thomas was speaking to her tonight – but she accepted that her angel was trying to tell her something. 

She said some words to the close and holy darkness.

And then she slept. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nanowrimo - Full Moon

42,278 - I am totally doing this.  Here is today's excerpt:

She had a long nap – unusual for her – but the last two days had been exhausting. 
The moon rise was beautiful and when it topped the trees she started to gather what she needed for this ritual she had researched.
She set a blanket outside on the back deck.  She placed a new beeswax candle in the centre of the blanket.  She took a crystal bowl from the cupboard and filled it with cold water. She took an empty bowl outside with her and placed both bowls on the blanket in front on the candle. 
She lit the candle and sat cross-legged in front of the bowls and candle, the light of the full moon shone down on her. 
She took the crumpled post-it note and smoothed it out on the ground in front of her. 
She wrote November 25, 2015 in her best cursive hand.  She wanted this to be legible. 
She signed her name – first, middle, last.
She breathed deeply and said “I now let this go.  And it is so.”
She picked up the crumpled paper and held the corner into the candle flame.  The post-it note caught quickly and she placed it in the empty bowl – watching the flame, and smoke and ash float up into the night sky.  The paper had ignited quickly, and burned hot, disintegrating completely.  She thought to herself that this was a good omen.  A good omen indeed. 
She then placed both her hands in the cool water and rinsed them, allowing the cold night air to penetrate her skin and yet she didn’t shiver.
She placed her hands palms up on her knees and breathed deeply.  She sat meditating and watched the candle flame for some time before closing her eyes and continuing to focus on her breathing. 
The night air grew colder and the moonshine moved off of the deck and into the neighbouring yard.
The cat padded quietly up to her and rubbed against her back.  It was time to go in. 
There was still time before the end of the month.  Still time to see if she had truly let go of that which no longer served her. 

Is it true? Did it no longer serve her?  She thought so. She hoped so.  But she didn’t really know.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nanowrimo- Intuition

40,841 words....

She made some lunch and thought about her other siblings.  Some closer, some further away, but she knew in her heart if she had needed anyone of them they would be there for her.  And their spouses too, who were more like brothers and sisters, than in-laws, to her.  It made for a big, noisy, (and nosy) family. 

Now there were nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews – she had a myriad of relatives.
She had a myriad of friends.
Why then, did she often feel so isolated and alone?

Was it just a matter of being born under a certain constellation of stars and planets?  Was it being the fourth child of six?  Was it being a melancholic temperament?  Was it because she thought too long and too hard about life rather than just living it?  Was it because she cared too much for everyone else’s safety and not enough about her own? 

If you followed the belief of some we stand on the rainbow bridge and choose our parents, choose our inherited body, choose the life we are going to live because this is the life we need to teach us the lessons we want to learn. 

What was she learning from this life?  What had she forgotten about the agreements she made in the spiritual world to be the daughter of one, the wife of another, the mother to two, the sibling to five.  What were those agreements?

She grabbed her swimming bag and headed out.  She would use the sixty-four laps of her mile to think on that.  What were those agreements?

While she swam she thought about pre-incarnation agreements.  She didn’t get very far.  How was she to know what her, their, agreements were? Did she and her mother agree to have the relationship they did?  She and her father?  She and her children?  She and her husband? 

It was confusing and complicated and beyond her capacity to muddle through it.

At least she got the swim in. 

Some days that was as good as it got.  Some days getting up, feeding yourself, and getting a swim in was as good as it got.  And some days that was enough. 

Today, though, it wasn’t.

She phoned her sister back.  She told her about the crumpled piece of paper lying under the fridge.  

Together they wept. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nanowrimo - Poetry

Here is today's excerpt.  The poem was written by me on November 13, 2001 - So eerie that was the date of the Paris terrorist attacks.

Her coffee was cold, and as she reheated it she leafed through the tattered journal and found this written for K on her twelfth birthday, November 13th, 2001

Peaceful Wish

If I could wish
for just one thing
On a clear November sky,
I wish for peace for all
who see the stars go
sailing by.

I wish a child’s laughter
was the only cause for
mother’s tears,
I wish a father’s arms
could put to rest a
child’s fears.

Yes, I could wish for
emeralds and gold
and jewels to fill the sky,
But all I want is peace
for those who watch
the stars sail by.

She remembered back to that year, two months after 9/11.  On the morning of 9/11 she had been camping with her class in the local mountains, her son had been hiking with his class on a four day trek, her daughter had been in school, her husband had been at work.  Her greatest fear had been realized that when disaster struck she was not with her family, and her family wasn’t with each other. 

As a teacher she had tried to allay the fears of her Grade Six students, but this particular student’s father had arrived to take her away to bunker down in their cabin in the interior. 

That had frightened the class more than anything – the removal of this one child.

As she looked at the birth date of K, she realized it was November 13.  The same day, when this year, the Paris attacks had taken place.  

She didn’t believe in coincidences. Clearly she had hope fourteen years ago.  Where had it gone?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nanowrimo- Day Twenty-Two - Horoscope

Today's excerpt: 
And then this line popped out from her horoscope reading: It has not been possible to have a relationship with your father.  Perhaps he disappeared when you were young. Tears welled up in her eyes.  Her father had died when she was seventeen and she knew she had never really gotten over it. 

Fathers and daughters are complex enough in their relationship, she knew this, but she had missed him everyday. 

Her father had a quick and ugly temper, and she had been on the receiving end of it a number of times as a younger child, but that all changed when she became a teen-ager.  They had developed a close relationship especially after he was diagnosed, for the second time, with cancer.  After school her younger brother and sister would be out with their mother.  Her brother would be swimming, her sister babysitting, and she and her father would sit in the living room talking about real things.  Often he would pour her a small glass of sherry and they would sit across from each other in the wide expansive living room. 

In large gatherings she would be snuggled up against him, but in these more intimate  moments they chose to sit across where they could really see each other. 

He talked about why they had moved to this neighbourhood and not a more upper class one.  He talked to her about his value of people over things.  He helped her through her first heartbreak, promising her that there would be someone who would love her for the woman she was.  He was right about that, but he was dead long before she would meet her husband. 

He talked to her about employment and how he felt one should behave towards their employer.  His ideas were old-fashioned, but ultimately true and right.  At least for her. 

When he was very sick, blind and disfigured, he still would come out into the kitchen to meet her friends, and say hello and vet new boyfriends.  She loved him for that.  That he would put his pride aside to still be ‘the father’ in situations where ‘the father’ needed to show up.  

Often she would arrive home from school, her grade twelve year, and her mother and sister would be in the kitchen, distraught and weeping.  He would have refused to eat all day, saying he just wanted to die.

She would gather the tray with the stewed prunes, and boiled egg, and walk into his bedroom.  He would be lying in the bed, on the left side, he had shared with her mother for thirty years.  He would be listening to the radio, eyes closed, not that it mattered for by this time he was blind. 

She would call his name softly.  “Dad?”  “Dad, you have to eat something.” 

And he would.  For her, he would eat. 

She would sit with him while he ate, and they would listen to the radio together.  They would joke about all the things he had won in radio contests.  Over the years she would carry this torch, entering and winning numerous items from local radio stations. 

Her mother had promised him he would die at home.  Unfortunately, it was not a promise she could ultimately keep.  He had fallen one day and she couldn’t get him up.  He was moved to the veteran’s hospital.  Even there, he stayed busy, hooking a pillow and making a pink elephant, both items she still had. 

She would read him the paper, sitting on the end of his bed.  She realized that she didn’t remember the last time she saw him.  She remembers that he told her and her mother that his Dad had been in to visit him.  His father had died twenty years before, so they all knew that he was close to crossing the veil and his father was there to guide him. 

Her mother wouldn’t let her, or her younger brother or sister see him in the last weeks.  To this day she regrets this. 

And then, the morning of the first day of September, her mother had come downstairs to her room and told her he was gone.  She hadn't know about "White Rabbit" then, and even if she had it wouldn't have mattered.

She wept, and railed against a God that would do this to him, to her, her siblings, her mother.  And then she put on her game face and went upstairs to support her mother through the funeral, the paperwork, the wake. 

That incident caused her to leave the church that she and her father had so loved.  She didn’t return to it for twenty-three years, and when she did, it was to find him again.  In her forties she was missing him so desperately that she legally added his surname as her middle name. 

By now the horoscope reading was forgotten.  There were too many things that just weren’t her.  She didn’t like change, she wasn’t adventurous, she wasn’t a braggart, she wasn’t artistic, she didn’t care for material things, she didn’t demand aesthetic surroundings.

But she did have a father that had left her far too early and it was a relationship that she could never have.  At least not in this life.

She thought, as she often did, how different her life might have been if he had lived.  Would she have dated the men she did?  Would she have married the man she did?  Would she have shared her struggles with him?  What advice would he have given her? 

He, who had his own struggles with post traumatic stress disorder, although it wasn’t named that then.

She imagined meeting him across the veil.  How disappointed would he be in her choices? 

So disappointed in that to-do list for certain.

And her life?  This gift she had been given to age far beyond the age he had been graced with in this incarnation? Why wasn’t she valuing that for his sake, if not for any other reason. 


Living, with all of its struggles, was living in Grace. 

So, she had Grace.  She had her Faith.  All she needed now was Hope.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Nanowrimo - Day 21 - 35,864 words in, 14,136 words to go

She awoke to a very unhappy cat.  He had patiently slept beside her while she read through the night, and she had finally pulled the mohair throw over herself sometime around dawn and fallen into a deep sleep.  She dreamt about plants – herbs, jade plants, cacti. 

But now it was ten and the cat was so done with being patient.  He was hungry and she padded barefoot into the kitchen and filled his bowl, then opened the door a crack so he could go outside as soon as he was done eating. 

It was cold, the thermometer reading minus two, but it was sunny, and the air was crisp and promising. The fat black squirrel, who had been scavenging for seeds under the bird feeder, startled and leapt off the porch landing on the cedar boughs.  She never ceased to be amused at this acrobatic stunt she witnessed numerous times during a week.  You would think he would learn that I am not a threat, she thought.  But fear is a powerful feeling, and she knew that she would still go into flight mode in many situations.  Fight or flight.  Or in her case, anxiety or depression. Maybe she should start considering the fight option.

Now she was up – groggy from her reading marathon, but also inspired by the story and the notes she had made all those years ago.  Notes about karma and destiny, fate and ‘chance’ meetings, life paths, life cycles.  She was struck by the phrase: “Parzival is everyman, but everyman is not Parzival.” Despite the sexist language she wondered: Am I Parzival?  Am I every(wo)man?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Nanowrimo - Parzival

Excerpt from Chapter 20 - so far I am on track to finish - to make 50,000 words, and I think I even know where the story is going now.  Feels so good.

As she pulled out of the driveway she thought about Parzival.

She had studied the book many years ago – a study group at the school where she taught.  She and her husband had taken the course and although she had learned much from the instructor she knew that most of the significance of that story was too esoteric, at the time, for her to grasp. 

But now, the Parzival story beckoned.  And she knew why. 

There is a part of the story where Parzival comes to a castle.  Many magical things occur while he is there, and much of the mystery surrounds the holy grail.  The grail is not a cup, as many Christians would have you believe, it is more of a platter, but that isn’t the part of the story that spoke to her now.

There is a king in this palace and he is very ill. He has a wound that won’t heal, and it is clear that there is an aura of death around him, and yet he can’t die. 

Parzival spends a night in the castle and leaves without asking the king.

What ails thee? 

And because he doesn’t ask the question, the king is destined to continue to suffer, but also Parzival is now destined to continue to suffer because he didn’t ask the question. 

What ails thee?  A simple enough question.  The king could have chosen to answer, or not to answer.  To tell the truth as he knew it, or to lie.  The point was the question was not asked. 

And why?  Why didn’t Parzival ask the question?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nanowrimo - Knitting

I blocked this today:

Which led to chapter 19 -  Here is an excerpt:

There was a technique in complicated knitting where you put in a lifeline.  You would thread a contrasting coloured yarn though a row and then continue to knit a difficult bit of the pattern.  If a mistake was made you could easily rip out the knitting and pick up the stitches again from the lifeline. 

She wondered if she needed a lifeline. 

Could she stop right here, today, and pick up a thick colourful piece of yarn and weave it through her life? 

And then, if the 30th of November came and the to-do list was a mistake could she just rip back to November 19 and start again?

Talk about magical thinking.

But she did start to imagine weaving that thread through to today – she would weave through her childhood, her teen years, being nineteen, first loves, and heartbreaks, a marriage, children, her many careers, her struggles, her illnesses, her retirement, and end up here, today. 

There would be some extra yarn hanging over the edge and she imagined the yarn would be golden, probably made out of blue-faced leicester wool (her favourite sheep wool).  Every stitch of her life would be connected to the next by this soft, golden thread.

This reminded her of a poem – and she quickly (squirrel) turned to Google. Yes, here it was, the poem by William Stafford:

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread

 Don’t ever let go of the thread.  Her eyes welled with tears. How had she forgotten this? 

While you hold it you won’t get lost.

You. Won’t. Get. Lost.
She was weeping openly now, but again felt like something huge had shifted. She picked up her knitting.  The cat curled up beside her, he sensed this was not the time to yowl for food.

She slipped the right needle into the left and brought the yarn forward. 
Knit one front and back, knit to end of row. 

Knit to end of row.  And then?
Then transfer the needle full of stitches to the other hand and begin again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

HodgePodge and Nanowrimo - The Eye of the Storm

Thanks to Joyce for hosting, and visit here for other entries.
Click here to see other hodgepodgers.

1.  What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

I am sure there are lots of things that surprised me about my life, but the one that comes to mind at the moment is how I can derive such joy and delight in the simplest things; birds at the feeder, a child's smile as I walk past them in the grocery store, the fall leaves, the cherry blossoms.  Well, you get the idea. 

2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year...awesomesaucebeer o'clockbrain fartbuttdialcat cafe(apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here)fat shamehangryMx (gender neutral), and skippable. 

Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation?

Well I have used brain fart in conversation, and I think fat shaming gets in there too from time to time.  I don't think I would ever use any of the others, but you know what 'they' say - Never, say never!

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy...which one on the list is your favorite?

I do like gravy.  A lot!  All kinds.  I probably wouldn't eat brussel sprouts without gravy, unless it is the kind my husband makes with bacon and parmesan. We do make our own gravy, and recently my husband discovered an awesome gravy recipe by Jamie Oliver which is so delicious.  My favourite though is my mother's roast beef gravy.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it poured over Yorkshire pudding!

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

I have plans for the little things like writing a novel, or improving my swimming.  However I really suck at making plans for the big things like: should we move?, should we renovate?, where should we go on holidays?.  We both kinda fly by the seat of our pants on those big plan-less events.

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

Yes I own the original game - I think it is the one I played on as a child.  I love the game, but likely will not be playing it on the 19th.  I didn't even know there was such a thing as National Monopoly Day.  I have never been to Atlantic City, but I have taken a few train trips: through the Rockies, from Frankfurt to Florence and back again.  Parking in my town is free, but not unlimited.  And near the hospital there are meters now. (which I think is atrocious!)  The last thing I took a chance on was agreeing to teach a course I have never taught before with only 24 hours notice.  I am glad I did.  It went very well.  

6. A song you like that has the word (or some form of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

You are the wind beneath my wings.  I love the line "Have I ever told you you're my hero". 

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude....what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

I am grateful that I leap into things without always thinking it through.  I think, at 60, that can only be a good thing.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 18 - I have just over 30,000 words.  Hoo Hoo!

She drove in the eye of the storm.  It was sunny, and clear, and when she parked she noticed the air was very, dare she say it, warm.

She greeted her friend at their favourite sushi restaurant and they were talking before she had removed her coat and before the first cup of tea had been poured.  They had known each other through it all – first loves, first heartbreaks, first drinks, first betrayals.  The death of their fathers, marriages, divorces, babies, illness. 

All of it. 

Time would go by.  Sometimes a lot of time.  And yet when they reconnected it was as if no time at all had passed.  They always called each other on their birthdays.  It was their thing.  She was two months, almost to the day, older than her friend so she led the way into the new year, the new age, the new terrain. 

When they were growing up her friend had been the beautiful one.  She was the academic one.  It had seemed that way until they were in their twenties.  Then she had felt more of an equal but they were opposites.  One blonde, one brunette.  One tall, one short.  One slim, one curvy.  

But they were connected deeply – like two sides of the same rare and fragile coin.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nanowrimo - Sweat

Today's excerpt:

She could have driven down to ‘the hill’, but she reasoned that the walk there would be a good warm-up, and besides that meant she would have to walk the hill in front of her house on the way back, so it would ensure she arrived home sweaty. 

What was her fixation with sweating today?  She thought about that as she headed off to the starting point.  The streets were quiet, the rain letting up so she was walking through a scotch mist.  Another term she remembered her mother using.  Looking around she could see the valley where she lived was sitting inside a cloud.  She was walking inside a cloud. 

Sweating.  She wasn’t one who sweated easily.  She rarely used deodorant because she never really needed it.  Even in saunas and steam rooms she had to stay much longer than was good for her to begin to sweat and even then it was rare.  She had sweated when she had been a runner, but that was a lifetime ago.  Or, so it seemed.  No, it was.  She hadn’t been a runner for, what, twenty years?

She had discovered hot yoga about seven years ago – and power yoga – and the temperature in the room was between thirty and thirty-five degrees Celsius.  She had loved hot yoga, and she had loved the sweats she got into while doing those classes.  Why had she stopped going to those hot classes?

She thought it had something to do with money – the classes becoming more expensive, and also the classes becoming more crowded.  But really, she had loved them so much.  There had been three teachers she had followed, but two of them had left the studio.  Was that it?  They had left, so she had left?  She couldn’t remember her reasoning anymore. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nanowrimo - A Fairy Tale

My protagonist wrote a fairy tale today.  I think that means I wrote a fairy tale today.  Here is an excerpt:

One fairy night a herd of unicorn came to the shore of that ocean, and with great courage the leader stepped into an empty scow and this action set the boat drifting out into the waters.  The herd gathered on the shore, powerless to stop their leader slipping away.  There was much consternation among them, but despite their anxiety they were powerless to help.
In their confusion the herd started to move in a circle counter clockwise.  It was as if they were forming a carousel.  They felt trapped, confined, leaderless.  As they circled, wherever their hooves touched the earth a yellow trillium would spring up. 
As they circled around and around the trilliums grew thicker and thicker which slowed and slowed their forward progress.  It became harder and harder to lift their hooves and place them.  Soon they were stopped.  Held fast by the thicket of trilliums. 
 Frozen in time and space.  Their leader still drifting out in the ocean.   

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nanowrimo - The Tarot

She heated up some mushroom soup and made cheese straws like her mother had taught her.

She wasn’t sure why, but suddenly – squirrel – she wanted to find her tarot cards and the book she had purchased in her later teens – The Tarot of the Bohemians.  It had a purple cover.  She couldn’t remember the author – some Bohemian no doubt.

She couldn’t find the book, but she did find her cards.  They were wrapped in a silk cloth and tucked behind the paraphernalia inside her bedside table. These weren’t her first deck of cards.  Those cards she had purchased, along with the book, but many years back she had thrown them out after attending a lecture at her church about the pitfalls of things like tarot and horoscopes.

She hadn’t thrown them all out.  She had kept the Major Arcana card – THE SUN.  She used it as a book mark in a book of verses – one for each week of the year. 

However, a few years ago she had purchased another deck called Angel cards.  They were tarot cards, but the illustrations were of angels and archangels.  Each card was a beautiful piece of art. 

She slowly shuffled the cards, thinking of her to-do list.  Thinking of the end of the month.  Thinking of that newer world. She laid them out as she had been taught over forty years ago. She used the celtic cross layout – always had.  Ten cards.

Suddenly the smoke alarm went off – the soup had boiled dry, and the cheese straws were burnt beyond saving.  Back to the drawing board.  And by drawing board she meant that she made herself a cheese and lettuce sandwich.  She made tea and stayed there watching the kettle boil so as not to set off the alarm again. See?  Watched pots do boil. 

With tea and sandwich in hand she went back to the card layout. and slowly turned over the first card. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nanowrimo - Ulysses

“Come my friends, tis not too late to seek a newer world.”

She had just got home from teaching those fresh faced, enthusiastic teachers, and an excerpt from Alfred Lord Tennyson was repeating itself in her brain.

Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Is that what it was all about for her right now.  Seeking a newer world?  A world where bombs aren’t shattering the peace of an evening music concert, or families aren’t being torn apart by ego and misunderstanding?  It was the morning after the night before, a night only two days away from Armistice Day, and in Paris all hell was breaking loose.  Or was it?
Was something else battling the darkness?  Prayers, goodwill, support, strength, hope?

A student had reminded her this morning of something she had said years ago.  When light is being brought into the world, darkness will always arise to battle it. 

Had she really said that?  Had her younger self really been that aware?  
Teaching this week about Zarathustra, and Gilgamesh, Osiris and Set, all these stories about light overcoming the darkness.  Coincidence?  She thought, perhaps not.

Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

That is what Odysseus had thought, as had Jason. 

Were they wrong?