#SoCS – Ground

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness prompt this week is the word “ground.” As that word crossed my mind, it was easy to find something to write about. Going to “ground” to me is just about the same as “going to the well.” It means that, for me, it’s time to center myself, steady myself, and stand firmly on the ground in order to decide where life is going to take me next. I’m rather at a crossroads in my life with regard to this second career that I have carved out. I have to decide which direction I want to go.

The Universe is giving me, or maybe forcing me, to take some time to make my decisions. My husband and I are going to take a big trip very soon. We live in the U.S. and we’re going to Europe; specifically, the Mediterranean. I have been all over northern and Central Europe, but never to Southern Europe. We’re taking a wonderful cruise around Italy, France, and Spain and some of the islands in the sea. We’ll, of course, be on the ground in Europe some as we stop at ports of call. I can’t really make any decisions about my career or start anything new until we return. It will give me some time to do some thinking. This will be valuable, I think. I’ll take pictures and share them with al of you when we return.

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Stillness – #writephoto

There were always a few tourists hanging around the cliff at the end of the day. If they noticed the old man sitting there, on the rocks, no one paid much attention to him. The tourists were there to see the sunset. It was a spot known for its spectacular sunsets. The old man was there every day, for every sunset.

He sat tall with exceptionally good posture. His father had taught him that. He had a full head of white hair. You couldn’t see his face since he was looking down, but you could see his rather rugged profile. He wasn’t a handsome man, but he was someone you would instantly notice. His arms were stiffly supporting him on either side.

This was the place John came to for serenity, to find stillness. The older he got, the more life overwhelmed him. He and his wife had made a pact to try to get back to simplicity, to even become minimalists. It seemed that life interfered with their plans at every turn. Being a minimalist didn’t just mean having a home that was stark with little furniture and no clutter. It was also a way of thinking. Just living in today’s world almost would not let them live their lives in a simple manner.

That’s why John came here every day. It was meditation, he supposed. This was the only place where he could empty his mind completely and have a half hour of peace. When that half hour had passed, it was if he had awakened from a trance. He was refreshed. It was much better than sleep. He felt he could survive.

Dictate

A bright blue fall day prompts childhood memories. The summer in Kentucky has been long and hot with at least two heat waves that were more intense than most can remember. Until yesterday, we were experiencing a heat wave where the day. time temperatures were at least 20 degrees above normal. Even the animals seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when the temperatures finally dropped to something near normal yesterday. Perhaps the rains will come and wet this forest where I live. The few leaves that have fallen are a dry, crunchy brown.

The dry weather dictates whether or not we have a fire season this fall. It seems Mother Nature is going to err on the side of fire this year. This little area of the world has had no rain for many weeks. The Daniel Boone National Forest is so dry that you can even hear the raccoons walk. Frogs populated our deck last night because they know we water our flowers there. They came in search of water. We gave them an extra spray or two of the hose and they seemed to appreciate that. It’s disconcerting for me, at this time of year, to live in these woods.

Sitting on my deck last night, I remembered fall nights as a child at a home not far from where I live now. We would sit outdoors and listen to the whippoorwills. I haven’t heard one in years, even though I live in the country. Urban development has driven them away. I’ve only seen a few fireflies. My friend was usually with me on those warm autumn nights. I remembered him with such fondness last night. Eddie passed away recently and I so miss just knowing that he’s in the world. The Eddie I knew as a boy was good and the Eddie who was a man was even better.

Since Eddie left us, I feel fundamentally changed. It’s as if the last vestiges of childhood have slipped away from me. Without Eddie in the world, without the cousins I played with as a child, without my parents, the childhood I spent on that hill down the road seems very far away. A mystical, magical time that I must have dreamed. The hills behind our houses that Eddie and I explored together….those hills that are now red and gold in their autumn glory must have just existed in my imagination.

Is this what grief dictates? Does it strip away everything and just leave a shell? What is really left when your family is gone? Eddie was my family. When your friends start to go as well? Will those warm autumn memories of baseball in the backyard, cards in front of the roaring fireplace, and a warm feeling of friends and family ever wrap around us again?

Thanks to onedailyprompt.wordpress.com

Copper – #writephoto

You could hardly see her as she walked down the old country lane. The trees were ablaze with fall color and her coppery-colored hair was indistinguishable from the leaves swaying from the bowing branches. She was home to see her parents for the first time since she had married. They were not pleased and she hoped to placate them.

It was the fall of 1943 and her new husband had gone off to war after only two weeks of married life. She knew that he hadn’t wanted to marry before going off to war. She wouldn’t know until many years later why he finally decided they should marry. She thought he had a guilty conscience. She really hadn’t meant to get pregnant. They met in the USO Club in the small town where she lived with her sister and attended college. Her sister and her husband had introduced her to him.

He was just so exotic. Growing up deep in the heart of Appalachia, she’d never met anyone like him. She’d fallen in love. He’d come to the small college town to train naval men before they went off to war. He was from another place, another culture. He had such a voice! They hadn’t meant to become so intimate so fast. Then there was a baby that would come of their union. She did love him so, but did he love her? She had no way to know. She was determined to make that happen.

Now she had to concentrate on her mother and father. They had married in the spring, but she had attended summer school. This was the first time she’d been home since her marriage. Almost at the end of the lane that led to The Big House, where she’d grown up and where her parents still lived, she slowed her pace and took a deep breath. She sat her small cloth suitcase down and breathed in the crisp fall air. She looked around her. It was beautiful in eastern Kentucky at this time of year. Now it was time to face the music. She could hardly stand to disappoint them, especially her Daddy.

The Savior

They would stand in the rain as long as necessary. They followed him, wherever he went. The rallies, they found them addictive. They touched something inside of them. Something they hadn’t known was there until they heard him speak. He said the same things every time he spoke and he enraged them, but they felt they needed to be enraged. Why didn’t the entire country realize that? Realize how much sense he made?

He was the Savior. He was going to help them out of their difficult lives. Never mind those who doubted him. They didn’t hear what they heard.

Thanks to Rochelle! Photo Prompt @ Na’ama Yehuda

Harbinger – #writephoto

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It somehow seems unfair that, as you get older, life gets harder. Haven’t we paid our dues by now? Isn’t it time for easy street? Apparently not. I’ve just spend one of the hardest summers ever and I’m hoping it isn’t a harbinger of things to come. I don’t normally believe in omens, but the events of the past summer has filled me with fear.

The good news is that I’m enjoying improved health. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit long-lost relatives — my father’s side of the family. It was wonderful to see them. Then there is the bad news. My life was flipped upside down this summer, early on, when my husband had a huge health scare. Major, unexpected, and emergency open-heart open-chest surgery. I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified in my life and I remain frightened. He survived and has recovered quite well. I’ll never quite recover from the fear. Then, one of my best friends, a childhood friend, passed away, again quite unexpectedly. I still don’t believe he’s gone. To me, we’ll always be kids, camping out in my backyard.

On top of all this, my contract writing job ended. I knew it would, but I’m still sorry it did. I don’t quite have it in me to job hunt. At least not right now. I may wait awhile, then freelance. I don’t think I’ll take another contract position. I’m not cut out to answer to a boss at this point in my life. Operating my own freelance business is more my style now. Writing non-fiction business articles. Perhaps breaking into the B2B market. I also have other areas of interest – politics, culture, education. Maybe finishing my two books. A novel and a book of flash fiction. Those are my ventures into fiction, except for the fiction I have written and will write on this blog. I’ve made a good living writing freelance in the past.

I was reminded this morning of the harbinger I really should focus on. Three months  ago, I rescued a little dog named Clara. She’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed I’ve loved for years. She is seven years old and had served as a breeder dog in a kennel. I won’t go into all of her problems, but she was not well when she came to me. She had been neglected and only valued for her puppies. Clara has had a long summer of veterinary care and loving care in my home and she’s started to blossom. She’s starting to respond to us and she’s remembering she’s a dog who has the opportunity to play and be happy. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Perhaps Clara is the harbinger I’m looking for since fall has arrived and winter draws near. She represents hope for the future.

#weekendcoffeeshare – 3/29/2019

“Come on in, everyone, and have coffee or tea with me. It’s really good to be back to have coffee with you! You can have your choice of any of the hot beverages on the kitchen island. Then, please, join me in my writing studio.”

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I would be really glad to see each and every one of you and to read up on how you are doing! It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I’ll try to catch you up on what’s happening with me.

I haven’t had much time for blogging, unfortunately, in the last few months. It is unfortunate because blogging and writing short fiction here really helped me hone my writing skills. Not just writing myself, but reading all your incredible stories on your blogs. When I come back, that’s what I do – read your blogs since I haven’t had time to write here myself.

If I were having coffee with you, I would tell you that I’m working a more or less full-time writing job now. It started out as part-time, but quickly escalated to full-time and that was fine with me. It is a pretty high pressure gig which is the only part I don’t like, but most writing jobs are as I’m sure you know. When I’m not writing for my job, I’m reading and planning my book. Some of you may remember that I was writing a book, but I abandoned that project in favor of a much more interesting book project. I’m in the research stages of it since the book is historical in nature and I have to learn all I can about the time period about which I’ll be writing.

I thought my book project was going to be a novel. It may morph into a creative non-fiction book – a memoir of sorts. Although I’ll be writing about other people more than myself. I’ll be serving as narrator, but my story will weave in and out of their story. At least, this is the way I’m envisioning it now. As book writing goes, it may change! I’ll be attending a writer’s retreat in the fall to get some help writing the entire first draft.

So that’s what is going on with me. Life continues on as usual otherwise. It is very early spring in Kentucky. It’s still cold and I’m ready for warmer weather. The new puppy, Tucker, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, who I talked about last time I was here is now a year old and a real handful. We’ve started obedience class and he certainly needs it. I hope I survive it!

Some other news! I’m starting a new blog that I hope you will look at! It is about the issues facing the U.S. today and is called “life in pieces.” It’s located at https://usatheissues.com. We’ll talk about just that……plus my inevitable ramblings, but it’s not a fiction blog. Posts will not be daily. Just when I have time.

I’d love to hear about what all of you are doing. I’m probably just dropping in, but I’ll try to keep in touch. Thanks for stopping by for coffee today.

Timeless – #writephoto

She often came this way. She stopped and sat on the fence, looking at the single, timeless standing stone. It always caused her carefully controlled mind to wander. Back and forward. Backwards, she wondered where they came from. What they meant? Were other stones buried by the sands of time somewhere deep around this one, perhaps in a circle? Maybe this was a lone stone. Perhaps meant to cure sick children? How will we ever know, she wondered, what the prehistoric people who raised these stones really were doing.

Then there was that other theory. The one that some thought explained the pyramids as well as the standing stones. The theory that said that we weren’t alone in the universe. Perhaps other beings had helped those prehistoric people build these complex stone structures. Most discounted that theory of course, but she found herself thinking of it. It seemed so impossible that the prehistoric citizens could have done it themselves.

A timeless mystery of the universe. She started walking again, her imagination making her smile.

Renewal – #writephoto

Jane remembers the night they got to that island. They were just looking for a place to stay and they happened upon the bridge where signs told them of vacancies. They crossed the bridge, not really knowing where they were. Not really knowing they were going out into the Gulf of Mexico.

It was winter and even in the southern part of America, dark came early. Even so, someone was in the office of the first place they came to. After they secured a reservation, they went to their spot and crashed. Never really thinking about where they were. They had driven a long way. They knew it was warm and they could smell salt water. Sleep came instantly.

It had been a hard year for them before that winter. They were young. They didn’t know that the things that had happened, decisions they had made, would come back to haunt them many years later. They had the freedom of youth without the wisdom of age. Like most young people of ther generation, they worked hard and played just as hard. Too hard. It was the 1970s and their kind of fun seemed innocent then. They didn’t realize that it wasn’t. That the transgressions of youth would color their whole lives. They didn’t know that too much fun then would make the responsibilities of age hard and getting old so much more unbearable.

When Jane’s eyes came open, just a crack, the next morning, she looked around and saw the entire place enveloped in a warm glow. Bare tree branches were on one side of the place with palm trees towering over the other side. They had been lost the night before. She couldn’t imagine where they were.

Jane got up and dressed and walked out on the porch and down the road. The sky astonished her, layered in gold clouds. She had never seen anything like it. As she walked and nodded to the locals, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders, a sense of renewal wash over her. A decision she had been trying to make became clear to her as the tropical birds swooped in front of her. When she came to a general store, she found out the name of the island although in her mind, she’d already dubbed it her magical island. She’d been struggling with that decision for weeks.

After that winter, Jane knew they would spend many winters on that magical island. Looking back, she knows they will go back someday. It might be they should do it soon. Could it renew her once again?