Permanently Temporary

If we live long enough, we learn that not only does everything change, but also that everything can change all at once. Thus far 2015 has been one of those everything-is -changing-at-once scenarios. The changes in my life are all of the first world kind, thankfully, so I’m not complaining. But still, when I am living the changes, the totality can seem overwhelming.

In case you haven’t heard me mention my first world changes, here are a few of them. I became an in-town grandmother. I took a month off from work. When I returned to work I not only shortened my hours, I changed the actual days that I work. And I changed the ways I accept payment for my services. All that is enough to make a woman pushing sixty feel as though she has unremitting  jet lag, but there is more.

Now I probably do sound whiny, but…sniff.. my personal trainer moved to another facility. For reasons unrelated to the trainer, I was unable to follow him to the new location. So after eight years of a set  exercise routine I am having to start over. With the threat of diabetes always dangling over my head, I am afraid not to exercise. So I’m trying things, but it’s not the same. By the way, if you’re considering Zumba, forget about it; it’s way too humiliating.

This whole year has simply been disruptive. While I wouldn’t  change any of it (except for losing my personal trainer,) I’ve been anxious to return to some semblance of normality, which for me means healthy doses of solitude and time for creative pursuits. I’ve kept waiting, patiently and impatiently, for the jumble of my days to settle down, but after almost half the year has now gone and I’m still waking up wondering what day this is, I have reached the conclusion that what I thought was a temporary adjustment is actually permanent.

My new normal is taking on a babysitting gig at the last minute. It is not being able to figure out how to get any gardening done.

At least I brought a few fragrant snowbell blossoms into the house.

At least I brought a few fragrant snowbell blossoms into the house.

It is  trying  to figure out what to pack in my bag each morning so that I can try to hit an exercise class after babysitting. It is trying to fit all my clients in in just a day and a half. It is thinking about painting and writing, but not actually doing much of either.

Is a bird emerging here?

Is a bird emerging here?

It is thinking that my life is so unremarkable that I have little to share.

Yes,  almost everything has changed, but honey, NOT BOOKS!!!!  I am never disappointed by the power of the written word. I always seem to read the right thing at the right time. Once again I am not surprised that others have already written my thoughts in a more eloquent way than I ever could.

Unknown source

Unknown source

This time I have found solace in words from  Stefan Zweig’s autobiography The World of Yesterday. In relating the story of his peripatetic life, continually leaving everything behind as he fled totalitarian regimes, he said, “My life was already unconsciously accommodating itself to the temporary rather than to the permanent.” So true, I thought. My struggles do not compare to his, but I too no longer have a permanent schedule, nor can I be too attached to anything except what is in the moment. After all it is from individual moments that we form our most indelible memories, and it is for these moments that I have made these changes in my life. I have become permanently temporary.

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Zweig, having taken refuge in England as World War II approached,  remarked, quoting Shakespeare, “Let us meet the time as it seeks us.” I take that to mean let us do what is necessary for the times we live in, for sometimes we are simply swept along by events which are out of our control.  I believe I can adjust to the reality of my life circumstances, which are actually darned fortunate. Since everything is temporary, I want to be able to show up for it all. Perhaps in the hubbub  some things, the New Yorker, for example, will fall by the wayside. I may or may not be able to pick those things up again,  but what is important is that I am doing the best I  can. None of us will ever pass this way again.

lillian april-38

Living Memories

Today’s post is inspired by this bloghop prompt: Write about your earliest memories.

Emily at the waiting spends all the livelong day in tasks large and small relating to the health and wellbeing of her precious tot Cee. One day, when Cee is an accomplished young lady, will she remember the times when her Mama cut her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just so, the days when Cee climbed the slide and went down over and over, or any of the other daily routines that once made up her teeny tiny world? It would seem only fitting that the child be able to recall something of those most important years during which Emily will have worked harder than she has ever worked before.

In her blog hop prompt Emily referred to the term “childhood amnesia”, meaning  the inability of many adults to access early memories. I don’t really like that term. To me it sounds as though someone took our  babies over to some Scientology place and vacuumed out their  brains. Whatever this amnesia may be, do  mothers really need one more unfair situation to contend with, after all the parenting challenges  we already face?

It seems as though   mothers  are saddled with the knowledge that although we guide our  children through every single day of their formative years, that most of that fun and laughter will live on only in our own minds. In the end, some number of former children will just have to take our word that their younger days were filled with all the magic we grownups were  able to summon. But take heart, mothers; not every child reaches maturity with no remembrances of their younger days. Take me, for example. IMG_2667

From the time of my birth until the time I was and two and a half, I lived with my parents and older brother in a small house in East Memphis. It was my parents’ first house. In a marriage typical of the 1950s, my father went to work each day in the only car while my mother kept the house and the children. In the afternoons we napped  and our mother  polished our white leather shoes and bleached the shoestrings a pristine white. I don’t remember my father at that house, but that is not a criticism; I believe that like many fathers of his day, he left the hands- on work of parenting to my mother.IMG_2673

My memories from that house come to me in snippets. They don’t make a complete narrative, but here they are, in no particular order:  My Mother had  beautiful, intriguing hat boxes in her bedroom. Inside each box was a delightful, colorful array of feathers and textures. I don’t know if I knew they were hats.  I coveted them but they were off limits to me. I recall seeing the large figure of our maid, Lucinda, blocking my way to the desired stack of round boxes. Our house was on a small hill that seemed giant from my viewpoint.The thought of traversing the hill filled me with terror.  How would my short legs get me up or down that steep driveway? I remember lying on the floor in the morning,  giggling  in the galley kitchen while my mother pretended she didn’t see me. “What’s that on the floor?” she asked as she poked me gently with her bare foot which was attached to a slender, shapely leg.IMG_2674

In the afternoons my mother would close the  brown wooden shutters in the combination living room and dining room to signal that it was nap time. I would watch as with each closing louver the sun went out in the room.I didn’t mind seeing the sunlight fade, but I did mind the idea of a nap. Finally, I recall sitting perched  on  our living room  couch that was piled so high with things that there was barely room for me,  listening to a recording of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”. I  believe that was the day we were moving to our new house.

This I do not recall!

This I do not recall!

For each of these vignettes I have a corresponding feeling of “rightness” in my body, a knowing that I was there. Here are other facts  that I have been told but do not remember: that my brother and I rose early one morning, leaving a trail of bread crumbs for my mother to find us, and she followed them, locating us  us around the block on someone else’s swing set. That must have been my brother’s idea. Another of his ideas was to wash my hair with Elmer’s glue. My mother told  me we played out in the backyard every morning, and that each  afternoon all the mothers and children gathered to play in someone’s  fenced back yard, but I  don’t remember that either. I wish I could.

Now there is no one alive to verify or add to those early experiences, unless my brother remembers things I don’t.  I am left with only my memories  and my own truth to connect me to the time in my life when I was learning to navigate the world and myself.  My memories are few, but the way they resonate in my body tells me  I was the center of my parents’ world. That awareness seems to me to be the most sustaining memory  of all.

I take such comfort in being  able to remember even a little from  such an innocent time of life when my parents were so young and vibrant. They were still in their 20s, and they thought they had the world by the tail. It was the height of my parents’ physical and emotional intimacy with me. My parents were fallible, but I had no knowledge of that as yet.  I’m not sure if they knew it yet either. It was not until later that I would see their imperfections and learn the important life lessons of acceptance and cooperation.

No one grows to adulthood without some wounds or disappointments. Though as parents we know this intellectually, we hope life will be smooth for our children. We do all we can to pave the way, and tend to let go only reluctantly, often only after our fingers have been forcefully removed from whatever corner of control we believed we had. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

For those of us who have become parents and devoted our best efforts to our children, perhaps we can console ourselves with the idea that later in their lives, our children might retain some grain of remembrance of what to us was our most significant life’s achievement. If they can only remember one Christmas tree, one trip to the zoo or one sunny afternoon in the front yard, we hope that it contains the knowledge that they were loved and cherished beyond compare. And for those who have no specific recollections, let us hope that all of our hard work has crystallized inside our children’s beings as a preverbal sense that trustworthy adults were on the scene when they were needed the most. If our children can internalize, consciously or unconsciously, the love laced into each daily interaction, no matter how mundane,  we  can rest assured we will live on in their hearts.new-rtt-badge

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It’s the Real Thing

Hi Everybody! The Magpie is BACK after spending November, the month of Thanksgiving, typing furiously as well as inaccurately, which I know how to do at the same time, on my NaNoWroMo novel. I seem to have come out the other side with few ill effects except for realizing that I had been washing my hair with conditioner and wearing my bedroom slippers with the cardboard inserts still inside. What will become of my little novel? Thanks so much for asking. At the moment I plan to correct the typos and save it as a PDF so that a few carefully selected persons can read it. After that, I don’t know.

Naturally the NaNoWriMo experience has changed me. I am flooded with gratitude to all the authors out there who have slaved throughout history to create imaginary worlds for me to inhabit. I cannot even begin to count how my life has been enriched from their efforts which have allowed me to   know unforgettable characters, to identify  with their struggles, and to become  a part of their lives. Do not  say their lives aren’t real. YES THEY ARE!  And how I have mourned when a beloved tale has ended, for I was not ready to say goodbye.

I have greedily taken in all these riches provided to me by hard working men and women of vision and perseverance just the way I imagine ancient Romans used to feast at their ….parties, as though there were no tomorrow. That is no problem in itself; I consider daily reading to be a necessity, not a luxury. Read, read, for tomorrow we may die, I believe the saying goes.

But where I find fault with myself is in my not having been able to  see what very hard work it is  for these authors to craft their collections of words and sentences. Previously, after polishing off a book, I would say with a dismissive sniff something like, ” This author has used the word magnificent five times already”, or, “I can see where this plot is going. Is this author trying to insult my prodigious intelligence with this elementary story?”  And here’s the most infamous one of all ,”I could have written this.” NOT!!!!!  Readers, I have  now seen the light. Even a so- so, run of the mill, no brainer story requires serious work!

My second big NaNoWriMo change is a renewed appreciation for those who read what I write. In today’s  WordPress forum, reading a post is even more work than ever because of all the buttons one must push to get to the original post, a procedure which, like a long line at the grocery store, gives one time to decide if he REALLY wants to read this post. I did not formerly take readers for granted; no, I have been thrilled to have anything of mine read. However,  while writing for NaNoWriMo I came to see how important it is for a writer to have some feedback from the audience. I found myself wondering how readers would react to the creative decisions I made. That is why I am so eager, even hungry, for someone to read my little NaNoWriMo and meet my characters. They’re real, you know.

When I finally hit the “validate” button on the NaNoWriMo site this year, I did not know what to do with myself. Suddenly it was December. It began to sink in with me that I am traveling a lot this December and that I actually just had one day to Christmas shop and had no ideas of what to shop for. My poor tortured spirit, so depleted after my monumental authorly marathon, rebelled. It demanded to connect to something more real, more authentic than chasing around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to purchase and give away material items to folks who don’t really need anything. Really, Christmas shopping is no substitute for the thrill of writing.

So of course, I grabbed for a very comforting something real: a book series that I have already read. I am sure you all have your favorite go-to, read-again books. But in the spirit of gratitude I am sharing one of mine. Who knows when you may need to take refuge from the unrealistic expectations and disgusting commercialism that make up the holiday season?

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Source:bookmarcsonline.com

You may be familiar with Louise Penny’s well written Inspector Gamache detective series which takes place mainly in a tiny Canadian village called Three Pines. Why do I love it so? The main draw for me is how the author draws me in and makes me long to jump in my car and drive without stopping the 36 or so hours it would take me to get to this ancient village, where all the inhabitants seem to be sitting by a warm fire, drinking hot chocolate and saying words in a sexy French accent.

Source:louisepenny.com

Source:louisepenny.com

If you were to join me in Three Pines we could stay at the Bed and Breakfast run by an engaging  gay couple, Gabrí and Olivier,  where we would be served gourmet meals while we discussed who could have committed the most recent murder. We might be interviewed by Inspector Gamache, the honorable, perceptive Head of the Sûreté de Quebec, who prizes above all the ability to listen in order to solve a crime. And his ability to quote poetry by heart is a definite plus. That evening we would be invited to the home of one of the local citizens, perhaps that of Myra Landers, the  caftan clad retired psychologist who runs a used bookstore. Other guests would include  foul mouthed Ruth Zardo, the eminent poet, and the artists Clara and Peter Morrow. Dinner would consist of a simple but hearty stew with a crusty French bread and local wine, followed by cheese, fruit, and coffee.

Source:wallpaperweb.com

Source:wallpaperweb.com

After all my NaNoWriMo frenzy,  nothing would have suited me better than to be taken into the arms of the Three Pines residents. Ah, how they would congratulate me for committing myself to the NaNoWriMo project; I would bask in their approval. After our dinner at Myra’s we would walk through the snowy white wonderland of the village, our boots crunching in the  silent snow. Gabrí, one of the Bed and  Breakfast proprietors, would be waiting up to serve us a snifter of brandy. Then it would be time to go upstairs to sleep in one of the antique beds with its crisp white linen. We would sleep soundly until awoken by the heady aroma of fresh baked croissants and maple cured Canadian bacon cooking on the stove.

Source;hdwallpaperstop.com

Source;hdwallpaperstop.com

I would love to say I would meet you in the town where my own novel takes place, but I don’t yet dare to have such lofty dreams. But if you are game, and want a cozy place to recuperate because of the holidays, or because you have taken the trouble to read my blog posts, I would love to meet you in Three PInes, Monsieur.( Or Mademoiselle, but Monsieur sounds so much more cosmopolitan.)  Come, let us begin to memorize some poetry to recite when we meet Inspector Gamache! Yes, he is real!

And Thank You For Coming!

We are big on manners in the South. Any child over the age of 18 months knows to pepper all their  adult interactions with, “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am.” We greet each other in the street, very briefly if we are strangers, but still, we acknowledge one another’s presence. And if we are acquainted, woe betide you if a prompt thank you note for your graduation gift is not winging its way to my house. Centuries of these ingrained practices has resulted in a population that worries excessively over manners and social graces. Did your child remember to thank each guest at the end of his birthday party at Chuck E. Cheeses’s, where the noise level was above OSHA regulations, and two kids actually wound up joining someone else’s party?  No? Well, somebody’s noticed that little omission, for sure.

Shttp://etiquettewithmissjanice.blogspot.com/2011/11/manners-in-south-alive-or-gone-with.htmlource:

Shttp://etiquettewithmissjanice.blogspot.com/2011/11/manners-in-south-alive-or-gone-with.htmlource:

I know Southern etiquette pretty well. But now I must meld those mores with that of blogging and WordPress. And awards. I am thrilled to  be chosen for awards. If one accepts an award, one is to choose other worthy recipients, which seems pretty friendly and Southern to me.wordpressfamilyaward

So what’s her problem, you may wonder. The problem is, how do I know others want awards, in that they will be required to take action themselves in order to accept? Is that like asking someone to wrap their own birthday present? Is it like not having a butter knife at the table? On the other hand, if I assume someone has zillions of readers and followers, has moved on to the big leagues and is about to become the new Pioneer Woman,  and  I leave them out, will I be committing the absolute worst of the Southern No Nos, HURTING SOMEONE”S FEELINGS?

Dilemmas such as these, my friend, are what make Southerners move so slowly. We try to blame it on the heat, but that’s not it. Drawing each word out into several syllables actually gives us more time to scan the room and make sure little Stevie gave up his seat to Aunt Edith and that no one dares to try to wash their hands at the kitchen sink. It’s a hard life.

Today, friends, I am venturing outside my comfort zone, because I have been given an award and I am going to accept it. The real test of bravery will be passing the award on to ten bloggers WITHOUT KNOWING IF THEY WANT ONE. That’s right. That’s how I’m, gonna do it. Wish me luck!

First, the award, shown above, is the WordPress Family award, passed on to me by kidazzleink . Her travel memoirs make me feel I am taking her trip as well; you should check her out! Below is info about the award and the rules:

As you read this, you may be asking yourself where did the idea for this “Part of the WordPress Family Award” first originate. A fabulous man called Shaun created it and this was his rationale for doing so:

 ‘This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I started this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side as only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award. Thank you,

Shaun @ http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/

What a warm and wonderful award to create and pass on to others we appreciate.

Well here are the award rules.

If you receive this award it means someone really values all the hard work you put into your blog and the kind and considerate thoughts and comments you share with others through the WordPress experience. It means you’ve been identified as someone who is part of the WordPress family.

In accepting the award you are asked to:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 10 others you see as having a positive impact on your WordPress experience; people you feel are part of your own WordPress family.

4. Let your 10 new “Family” members know you have awarded them

5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people that have taken you as a friend, and spread the continue to spread the love.

My new Word Press Family Awards today go to:

krug the thinker, who is also my precious daughter. She is a born encourager; just have a look at her blog about her creative life. You’ll believe YOU can do all those things as well.

The Waiting. – This family, parenting, life and coolness bloggess  is in  the  big leagues now, but her encouragement made me believe I  too could start a blog.

 Tip of my Tongue – Honest, incisive posts about life issues, plus poetry.

City Jackdaw– Because it’s nice to follow a blog by an Englishman.

The Belmont Rooster- Down to earth adventures on the farm, plus tons of useful plant information.

Are You Finished Yet?  A little further along on the parenting journey than the waiting, with stories that tug at your heart and make you laugh.

A little Blog of Books and Other  Stuff – Helpful book reviews, and just what you’re wanting to know about this year’s Booker Prize winners.

The Accidental Cootchie Mama – Her blog has a friendly welcoming vibe somehow. Like all the others above, you know if you met her you’d like her.

Lynne Revette Butler– hasn’t written much lately, but her photos are to die for.

Harsh Reality – Harsh draws readers in with his provocative, thought provoking questions. Drop in if you like debate.

Thank you to all who have welcomed me at WordPress. I appreciate your hard work, creativity, and encouragement. I hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, and thank you all for coming!

Only You Can’t Prevent PTSS!

Warning: Due to the serious nature of today’s post, there will be no pictures. Feel free to imagine a picture wherever you think there should be one.

I sat down today to write a light hearted fashion post. But this Very Important Public Service Announcement seemed to write itself first. It’s about something that may have already happened to you. Maybe you didn’t want to talk about it. I understand; I’ve been there.

Many people write blogs about their daily lives. Curious readers love to identify with the nitty gritty of the lives of others, from how they got into grad school to how they coped with their husband’s death. This practice goes right along with the well known advice for writers to write about what they know. I just want to go on record here to say that writing about what you know can have some unintended consequences.

A while back I wrote this post about a frustration in my daily life. I intended for the post to resonate with other middle aged crones such as myself. Maybe a few younger women would read it as well and vow, erroneously,  that my situation would never happen to them. Overall, though,  I hoped that we girls would all bond over remembering our first bras, and how we have struggled with the contraptions since. But believe me, the response to that post has informed me NEVER to write a post about bras again.

Because creepiness.

Because who knew, and who wants to know, how many persons are out there searching for images of bras and breasts? At all times of the day and night? And all over the globe? Not a day goes by that I do not have searches such as “little girl no bra,” “schoolgirl bra,” “girls in school uniforms no bra”? EEEWWWW!!!!! “Asian teens in bras”, “Pakistani girls modeling bras” DOUBLE EEEWWW!!!!! How could I have been so naive? I thought I said “For Ladies Only”!

Who are these people who are SO uninvited to my blog? My imagination goes wild: Adolescent boys in an internet cafe in a developing country? Preteen girls in Kansas City, on their Ipods at a sleepover?  Or, my worst visual, a pedophile of indeterminate age and nationality, slavering over his laptop at night in his rented room? ( No offense intended to those who rent rooms.) I know I can’t see them and they can’t see me, but I don’t like knowing they’re out there. It’s uncomfortable, kind of like having a dog watch you undress.

The only possible bright note is that there seem to be no searches for “saggy breasts”, “droopy bras”, or”middle aged woman no bra.” We girls of a certain age can at least know that our kind is not sought after by who- knows- whom  on the Internet. As we undergo the inevitable, and losing, struggle with gravity, we can console ourselves knowing the world doesn’t care.  It’s our secret.

I do not in any way mean to squash anyone’s creativity with my cautionary tale. In retrospect perhaps I should have been able to see that my post had the potential to attract  undesirable attention, leading to Post-Traumatic-Slime-Syndrome. This occurs when you look at your stat page and are grossed out by the searches which are leading to your blog. Symptoms are disgust, a scowling facial expression, and compulsive horrified re-reading of the searches, followed by a slamming shut of your laptop.

I know PTSS cannot always be predicted. When we launch a post into cyberspace, it can be found by anyone. We must not be deterred from our writing needs and dreams by something we cannot prevent. But forewarned is forearmed, I say. Should it happen to you, don’t blame yourself. You are not alone. And I’m here if you want to talk.

Trading Blue for Yellow

A couple of Sundays ago I woke up feeling a little blue.  My problems were the usual stuff of those who have no real problems. I had now been living with my belongings dispersed through the house as if by a maniac for many weeks. Since my bedroom floor was now rough concrete, I was stepping in little grains of cement every time I went in my bathroom. Between the workmen tramping in and out and having our extant bedroom furniture  placed willy nilly in other rooms, trying to clean or organize was out of the question. I felt cheated because I had slept late and now my husband thought it was too late to ride bikes. Also, I had determined that only about five people were reading my blog. That was the real rub.

I contemplated this last opinion while I sat outside with my coffee. There was no doubt that I was feeling sorry for myself, and it was up to me to change the situation. Had I written what I wanted? Yes. Had I been satisfied with it? Yes. If a blogger writes a post in the forest, and the animals can’t read, is it a real blog post? I didn’t know, but I did know this mood was not going to fly. What could I do, I mused, to take care of myself right now and avoid the steaming morass of self pity that was lurking just over my left shoulder?

I knew! I knew! I was going to take my own self on an adventure! Quickly, before my brain could give me instructions otherwise, I threw on some bicycling clothes and smeared  sunscreen on my face. “You’re going all by yourself to Shelby Farms?” inquired my husband as he checked my bicycle tires. “Yep,” I replied, sliding my cell phone into my sports bra. “Maybe it would be easier to leave the phone at home,” he suggested. “Nope,” I replied.

I knew why he’d  said that. A few years ago while we were riding together I had tried to fish my phone out of my bra while riding. I wasn’t having any trouble until he came up behind me offering suggestions while I tried to answer the phone and stop the bike at the same time. Thanks to his “help” I pulled on only one brake, causing me to be thrown over the handlebars and onto the pavement, watching my cell phone clatter down the street.

Today I wasn’t going to get caught up into his fears that I would again answer the phone while biking. His fears were going to have to be his own problem. This bike ride was going to  be all about me, Baby.

In five minutes I was pedaling down  my driveway, free as I had felt on a Saturday morning in second grade after I had dusted the piano and been allowed outside to play. As a child  I  regularly biked for hours around our neighborhood. It was the same now except I had a helmet and could go as far as I wanted. How could it be that I rode my bike so seldom? Well, for one thing it is often hotter than Hades where I live, I reminded myself,  making it necessary that bike riders, along with walkers, runners, and gardeners , start their activities at dawn or not at all. Today, however, the temperature was tolerable and the humidity low.

My general destination was Shelby Farms, a 4500 urban park close to our home. In recent years a conservancy has made major improvements in the park including  turning an  unused railroad track into a Greenline to help connect citizens to the pleasures within. The part that will extend to my neighborhood is not yet built, so, alone with my thoughts , I took backroads for about 6 miles until I crossed into the park.

The park is split by a major thoroughfare. I rode into the south side which contains, among other things, a farmer’s market and an RV park. I rode beside the RV park, wondering what it would be like to have one, and to pull up to a campsite in the middle of the city to spend the night. After reading a mystery series in which the heroine drove an RV, I mentioned it would be fun for me to tool around in  one. This idea was just too much for the man who is afraid for me to take my phone on a bike ride. He sputtered about how hard it would be for me to maneuver, how I lack depth perception ( which is true) and the costs of gas. Mostly I think he was afraid he would come home and find an RV in our driveway. What does he think I am, I asked myself as I cleared the RV area. Impulsive?

Beyond the Rv area I rode on some narrow and some wide trails past the solar farm area and an enormous mulch making facility before cutting up closer to the road. I was close to my specific destination: the sunflowers.DSC_0714

Every year  the park plants a large field of tall sunflowers  which can be seen from the major thoroughfare. Countless children are taken there by their parents to pose for pictures among the flowers.  Engagement photos are taken there as well. Maybe some people even cut some  flowers to take home. I had always wanted to visit the sunflowers during their brief season, but until today I never had.DSC_0724

I dismounted and took out my camera. Rows and rows of sunflowers stood before me, just like a corn maze. I found an opening  and tromped in, taking care not to get too close to some families nearby who were photographing their children. As I admired all the yellow and  gold loveliness, I overheard parents admonishing their children to stop crying and smile for the camera. A Labrador Retriever was being urged to stand beside a recalcitrant child.DSC_0727

DSC_0716Nevertheless, it was a peaceful place. I could hear but not really see the traffic. And within the rows was a a magical feast of golds, yellows and greens. The sky was somewhat overcast, but the colors shimmered for me. Deep within the rows, unseen by any human eye, I stood perfectly still. All around me the bees buzzed and lit on flowers, while butterflies chased  one another from bloom to bloom.DSC_0744 DSC_0734 DSC_0739Everywhere I looked a sea of sunflowers faced the sun. DSC_0730Even the backs of their necks were beautiful to me.

How long did I stay? I stayed until I decided to leave. Somehow the warmth and simplicity of the sunflowers restored my equilibrium.  As I eventually pedaled away, I heard myself say to me, “You may have just five readers, but they’re QUALITY readers!” That made me laugh out loud. Yes, I was out on an adventure that day, and I wasn’t going by the specifications of others. I would follow the sun in my own way.

How Did It Go?

Whoa! I haven’t partied like THAT in a long time! It’s nice to know I could fit so many  people in my house. Even now I pinch myself that they all found their way here.  But really, how did it go? You’ll have to tell me because when something is at my house I can never tell. I’m too busy with my hostess duties.

I’ll tell you what I DID notice.  The doorbell kept ringing and ringing and ringing!  I met so many people I can’t remember all their names, but they were all book lovers. And such a creative vibe! It doesn’t even seem real that I got to entertain so many readers, bloggers, writers, and artists.

Here's what got the party started!

Here’s what got the party started!

Did you see that knot of people at the top of the stairs? The hipsters  drinking out of the whiskey glasses? They met each other after they got here and sat up there for hours discussing everything from literary theory to the best discount travel sites.

They helped themselves to the glasses. Sorry everyone else had to use Solo cups!

They helped themselves to the glasses. Sorry everyone else had to use Solo cups!

And then there was the group that stayed over by the fireplace; I guess they were lucky, in that crush of people to have a place to sit down on the hearth. I overheard a lot there about literary fiction.  People were good natured about the crowd, though, and perched wherever they could.

In the sunroom there was lots of laughter, apparently connected to a disagreement over the best children’s literature. Everyone was advocating for their favorite childhood book characters. I merely smiled as I looked in, knowing quite well I had “Bread And Jam For Frances” upstairs  in a bedroom, literally above their heads.

People formed  groups organically, in a kind of human Dewey Decimal system. I met grandmothers, sci fi fans, hikers, librarians, poets, cooks, and doctoral students. Young mothers seemed clustered together, and the retirees stayed put on the upholstered chairs. People kept offering to help me but I really just wanted them to meet each other and have fun.

Mingling among the groups. I had little time to spend with each person. I did admit to someone that I don’t really know how to use twitter,and that the weekend I was trying to write my first blog post, I nearly burst into tears trying to crop the magpie picture on the header. I had hoped to get each person to just recommend to me ONE book, and I was going to keep them in a list  on my phone so I wouldn’t lose it. But I couldn’t even keep up with my red solo cup of wine, much less my phone. I guess that will have to be a future blog post.

I was glad for people to peruse my bookshelves. It would be the first thing I'd do in THEIR homes!

I was glad for people to peruse my bookshelves. It would be the first thing I’d do in THEIR homes!

I would say there were one hundred people in the back yard. Some seemed to recognize flowers I had photographed for the blog. Others were out there to smoke or to get some fresh air. The few times I checked out there, I got some good tips on growing tomatoes.

I don’t regret catering in the barbecue. That’s the easiest way I know to feed 500 people on short notice. Certainly my guests  had no great cuisine expectations, but there was no way I was entertaining without serving food. There is no banana pudding left, by the way.

I guess my social skills WERE needed for my impromptu party!

I guess my social skills WERE needed for my impromptu party!

Thanks to onecreativescientist, the ice chests were stocked with beer, soft drinks and ice. My few wine bottles were supplemented with donations from my gracious guests. Krugthethinker and thewaiting were absolute angels; they were two extra sets of hands to  greet guests, keep drinks flowing, and direct people to the facilities.

I'm thinking of some little hostess aprons for krugthethinker and thewaiting for all their help.

I’m thinking of some little hostess aprons for krugthethinker and thewaiting for all their help.

I won’t even try to count the languages and nationalities represented. But wasn’t it cool how many made friends, exchanged emails and made plans to visit one another in India, Wales, Chile, England? And to read one another’s work?

As soon as I get this place cleaned up, I’m going to sit down and write some thank you notes.

A lady always has stationery at the ready.

A lady always has stationery at the ready.

DSC_0719Because I really am thankful that so many people stopped by to read my post. It WAS like a party for 500 people, one I would love to experience over and over again. In fact, I would love to know more about those who stopped by, and to make a new friend, or 499 friends. Welcoming all of you into my life, however briefly, is the best Fresh Press of all!