Monday, May 27, 2013

I Try My Hand at Story Writing

What the heck - I'll post the "story" I attempted to write here.  It was fun - but I wish I had more imagination.....maybe with practice, I'll get better.  It does reflect how I've felt at times......

"The rain poured down from the sodden, bleak sky for the fifth straight day.   There was only so much hot tea one could drink, seeking solace in a comforting beverage.  After a while the caffeine gave her the jitters.

Summer in upstate New York can be ever so beautiful, but the weather makes or breaks the loveliness, rain turning the landscape melancholy and bleak. 

She gazed again at the open book in front of her, the history of Saratoga interesting, but unsatisfying.  After all, all that was spoken of were famous people and she wasn’t looking for traces of them.  Since her father had died, all she could think of was his face, remembered from her childhood, his aging, vacant eyes of the last few years erased.  He had dreamed once, when his final illness began and he could no longer stand on his own legs that he was walking through Congress Park, his whole life ahead of him.  Then he awoke.

Richard James Bootier was born March 26, 1919, into a very young 20th century.  His parents had witnessed the first aeroplanes, the first cars, and then he would live into the age of total destruction and the mass impersonality of America’s post industrial revolution.  And then he would die and go…..where?  Where was he now?

Looking up at the quiet brick interior of the library, she was conscious of her own mortality.  The scythe that had cut him down was hiding in the shadows, sharpening it’s blade for another cut.  If only she could hop off the assembly line heading inevitably to the blankness where he had already gone.

Sarah had tucked a small Bible into her pocket before she came out.  Its ancient words, although she wondered if she could really believe them, were so sure, so majestic.  Eternal life.  All one needs to do is look around at the tattered chaos of life, read a little history, and the words don’t seem to have as much power.  But she carried it with her anyway as a sort of talisman.  It had been her father’s, and he had been as unsure of it as she.

A damp draft teased the back of her neck.  Her hair in a ponytail, she could feel the change in temperature and it brought her a little frisson of chill.  Someone must have opened the door of the library to the outdoors, and the cold wet air of a rainy Adirondack day swept behind her chair.

Closing her eyes, she felt the empty dull sadness roll over her.  The one person who had admired and loved her was gone, the one of whom she was a female carbon copy.   It had been a mistake coming  back to Saratoga,  walking the streets of her father’s childhood, imagining his world, introducing the phantom boy to the child inside of herself.  She just felt old and lonely.

Shrugging back into her rain gear, she was startled by the feeling of a sleek, furry creature rubbing against her leg.   Imagining a rat, she quickly looked down and identified a ginger tabby cat gazing up at her, its’ green agate eyes filled with what could only be described as sympathy.

“Stuck out in the rain, buddy?” she asked gently, and the cat began to purr loudly, making movements as if it would jump into her lap.  “How the heck did he get in here,” she wondered.  He was obviously someone’s pet.  As she gathered her things to leave, he followed her.  “Great,” she thought.  “Now what do I do.” 

Walking through the revolving door, he kept close to her legs, and, slipping out next to her, he followed her the five or so blocks to her father’s old house. 

“Hey – you want to come in?” she asked.  The house felt so empty, so bare.  Even though many years before it had been her grandparents’ house and the home in which her father was born, it had been sold to strangers and remodeled.  It took all of her savings to buy it back.  She could never afford now to get rid of the modernization, to restore the huge kitchen complete with Hoosier cabinets that she remembered from childhood.

Ginger cat meowed and stepped right in, hopped up on the reclining chair, curled up, its paws folded under, and watched her confidently.

“Calm down.” he seemed to say.  “I’m here now and I’m going to answer some of your questions.”  Sarah shook her head for a minute, thinking she really had to stop drinking so much tea.  It truly was as if Ginger boy had spoken.  This is what happens to lonely, old women, she thought.  They become daft.  Just another sign of the Grim Reaper.

Sarah hung up her coat and laid her purse in the corner behind the chair.  She pushed Ginger boy off the recliner, sat down and, releasing the foot rest, sighed deeply as she sank into the plush chair. “I’ve got to come up with a name for you,” she thought – “I sure can’t keep calling you Ginger boy.”  Clear as a bell, the name, “Gabriel,” came to her.  “Are you a Svengali cat,” she asked, gazing into his inscrutable eyes.  “Well, Gabriel it is,” she said out loud.  “You can stay here as long as you want – I can use the company.” Feeling a bit guilty, she checked and found no collar and noted his fur looked a bit scruffy as if he had been living outside for a while.

“Poor fellow,” she crooned, and he promptly leaped into her lap and began making biscuits on her chest, purring all the while.  “Gabriel, you’re going to snag my sweater,” she said, but allowed him to continue contentedly.  Finally, he laid still, his paws resting on her chest, his face close to hers, his eyes half closed in utter relaxation.  As she watched him and stroked his fur, a strange peace came over her, something she hadn’t felt for a very long time.  “He’s magic,” she thought, and fell asleep.

“There’s a cell phone ringing,” she thought as she struggled up from the depths of her nap. 
Yawning, she realized she hadn’t felt so rested since, well, forever.  Fumbling for her phone, the call was just a sales call.

Gabriel was sitting on the end table next to the chair.  He looked alert and his eyes were so impelling, it was, for all the world, as if he was trying to talk.  Protruding from under his paws was a piece of folded lined paper.  As she picked it up she noticed it was fragile and yellowed.  “Where did you get this, Gabriel,” she asked, carefully unfolding the paper.  It was written on in pencil, in a childish hand, the letters carefully formed.  It was the Lord’s Prayer, the “Our Father.”  At the top of the page was her father’s name, Richard Scott, and the date, February 2, 1926.  Under the prayer was adult handwriting, somewhat feminine in its curves, the penmanship lovely and spidery.

“Today my son understood that Jesus Christ is his savior.  I am so relieved.  He will be in heaven and I will see him again after I die.” 

How macabre, I thought.  Lovely sentiment, but why would she, so young, be thinking about death?  Perhaps the realities of life, especially in the days before penicillin and great medical care, made people more pragmatic about life.

Underneath her words were some, I assumed, Bible verses.  Gabriel, at that moment, decided it was time to eat.  I put down the paper, wondering where it had come from, and, rummaging around the fridge, found some cooked chicken.  I put it in a dish and warmed it a couple of seconds in the microwave and placed it on the floor for the cat.  It met with his approval, evidently, because it was gone in about three minutes.

My attention went back to the little lined paper.  I thought how comforting it must have been for my grandmother to believe as she did, and I got out the small Bible.  Looking up the verses written on the paper, Gabriel once again in my lap purring, I began to consider this line of thought, of faith, more seriously.  And I began to read."

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Usual Backyard Photos

 Beas, the Cockatoo
Beas's Dinosaur Toes
 Beas eating a Florida cherry
 Fibonacci special
 Florida cherries
 Florida Lilac
 Tick weed flowers
 Wild grass close-ups

 Java Glory Bower
 New Pink Flower (of course I've neglected to learn it's REAL name.
 Seeds on the pavement

 Sunflowers growing from bird seed falling to the ground.

 White winged doves eating spilled seed

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Touch of Innocence

I don't know if this has happened to other people, but it has now happened to me three times in my life - and each time has been a beautiful surprise.

The first time was at a local park maybe 15 or so years ago.  I was walking through a wooded area with picnic tables.  It was late afternoon on a workday and I decided after work to stop and visit nature for a bit.  There was only one family nearby.  A man and woman and a small, perhaps 3 to 3 1/2 year old little girl playing on the nearby playground while her parents chatted.  She had dark hair, very curly, like a halo around her head and she appeared quite happy and content as she talked to herself in her little playworld.  I only noticed all this afterwards, for, as I walked slowly, looking for a place to sit down in the shade, the little girl ran headlong to me, looked up at my, to her, great height, and,  grinning widely, threw her arms around my legs.  Taken totally by surprise, I  smiled down at her and lightly touched her arm.  My first thoughts were practical - where were her parents and why did they allow their child to hug strangers.  I asked her where her mommy and daddy were and she pointed.  By now, they had noticed and called her back to them.  She went back to her playing and never paid attention to me again, to my knowledge.  

But the lovely surprise of two sweet little somewhat sweaty arms wrapped around my legs and a totally trusting smile had taken my breath away.  It was as if I had been touched by angels with maybe a little message of love from heaven in such a wicked world.  I worried a bit about her, hoping her parents would discourage further such displays, but at the same time, felt it was serendipity.  Perhaps this wasn't a habit of hers at all - perhaps it was just a little gift from God through the innocence and joy of a child.

The second time, the child knew me.  He was perhaps 5 or 6 years old, the grandchild of the Jamaican lady who lived in the condo across the parking lot from me.  They had lived there for years and we smiled politely at each other when passing, but that was all.  The little boy had never looked my way before that I know of, except on this one day, I came out of my condo and walked to my car and, as I did, he did the same thing the little girl had done.  He ran over to me and literally threw his arms around my waist and smiled a great big smile up at me.  I ruffled his hair and said hello, or some such inane thing, and looked to see his family's reaction.  They seemed to take it in stride and I smiled at them and laughed at the child's spontaneity.  But, once again, I felt when his innocent and joyful eyes met mine, that a little gift of God had been given to me - a touch of the angels.

The last time happened today.  I was shopping in the local grocery store, concentrating on which can of tomatoes to buy, comparing prices and sizes, when I felt a light, caressing touch run across the back of my sweater, somewhat in the manner that my husband does when he comes up behind me.  I looked up nonplussed - the thoughts running through my head, "it can't be my husband, he's at work, who on earth ...???" and I looked into the face of an 11 or 12 year old boy.  He reminded me a bit of a deer, very shy, but curious.  As he walked on and got closer to his dad down the aisle,  I could see the worry on his father's face that I would yell something or complain or make a scene.  But when I met the boy's eyes, I smiled and said, "that was nice - thanks."  I looked at the dad, thinking perhaps the child has some sort of condition, and smiled.  He said that most people don't react the way I did and I reassured him that his son's gesture was sweet.  How very unusual.

Once again, to be touched by God through the innocence of a child.  Perhaps this sounds weird or silly, but, if it has happened to you - if a child, a total stranger, throws their arms around you in what seems like love, or caresses your back - you'll know what I mean.