The Path

Artist Unknown — please let me know if you know

The stone path to the door in the tree is made up of stones too big to be called cobblestones.  They are worn and broken in spots – the path was either once well used or has been abandoned for years.  I can’t tell which.

The doorway calls to me.  Has always called to me.  I’m quite certain happiness and contentment lie behind it.  I think it is the Tree of Life.

I’ve been trying to get there for years.

Sometimes the heels of my shoes are too high and I can’t negotiate the stone path. Other times, the atmosphere on the way to the door is too foreboding.  To inaccessible.  Too dark.  Too far out of my way.  Too something.

I am determined now to go through. I have kicked off my heels and stride barefoot through the forest. Vulnerable and a little bit afraid.

Most likely, the door will be hard to open. I think the hinges might groan.  Might be rusted shut.  I don’t think many people actually make it through that doorway. Not these days.  The times are too — something.  I’m supposed to be a wordsmith.  I should be able to summon the right word. I can’t find it.  Maybe unsettled.  Complicated.  Perilous.  Insane.

If I get through….no…when I get through, I will paint the door red.  In opposition to the Rolling Stones. 

There is too much black already.

I am so weary. 

Once on the other side, I think if I stand in the doorway and look out, the forest will be sun-dappled and green.  The path is welcoming and not perilous.  The tree may bear apples.  Bright red and juicy.  Plenty for me. Plenty for others.

I think once the journey is over, I may forget how arduous it was. 

That might be a blessing.  Reality, which has been far too much with me, tells me that is not likely. 

It wasn’t easier with sturdy shoes.  But approaching the door naked and with reverence seems the right thing to do now.

I have stripped myself of that which might hold me back.  That may keep me from feeling all the feels.  I am vulnerable, but I am strong.

I will stride as much as possible across those worn, broken rocks through the dark, dreary forest.

I am tired of the dark.  Tired of dreary.

I am tired.

It’s now or never.  This crosses my mind a lot.  I don’t have a lot of years left.  I have spent my life, it seems, in a perpetual state of stress.  I can’t remember not being stressed. Not since I was 10.  Fifty-three years of stress can kill you.  Sap your will to live.

I haven’t lost that.  I am not defeated.  I am determined.

A second wind has energized me.  Or maybe a third wind.  Hundredth wind? 

I’ve been at this for a long time.

What’s on the other side of the door?

I try to imagine it.

A cozy room with a narrow quilted bed, reading chair, and books?

Another doorway to a sunlit meadow brimming with flora and fauna. Ripe apples?  Mine for the picking?

Nothing?  Everything. Mindfulness instead of mindless existence.

I am weary of trying to reach that door and failing.

I don’t think I’ve been trying in the right ways.  Tried tackling the path with someone or more than one someone by my side. 

Nope.

Tried it alone but was fortified for battle and obstacle.  Provisions, hiking books, walking stick, pith helmet. Camera to document the journey.

Nope.

Tried it tearful.  Tried it prayerful.  Tried it angry.

Now, no try, just do. 

Yoda is perhaps the greatest philosopher of all time.  Do or do not.  There is no try.

Maybe all of life is just a journey.  But that seems too despairing.  There has to be a point.  A destination.  A place of fulfillment and ease. 

Mustn’t there?

I intend to find out.

That door beckons.  Has always beckoned.  I will push it open.

Spam (and scalloped potatoes)

Comfort Food

It’s really stupid, but I particularly like Spam.  Yes, Spam –the luncheon meat – spiced ham. I was raised on it.  And then when we moved to Hawaii, we discovered it was like the state food.  I think their Spam consumption rivals their pineapple consumption.   Hawaiians eat Spam by the truckload.  You can get a Spam breakfast sandwich at the McDonald’s.  There is Spam sushi.  I am not making this up.

I like it fried with eggs.  I like it right out of the can at room temperature.  An old friend of my mother’s used to grind it up and make a ham salad sort of thing with it.  That was good too.

But I particularly like my Spam with scalloped potatoes.  That’s how my mom served it.  But she used Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup to make the potatoes.  Later, she started buying the boxed kind.

When I was 15 or so, I went on a tear to learn how to cook things from scratch.  I was given the Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I still have it.  I still use it.  Their scalloped potato recipe is to die for.  Really.  Well, it is with some modifications.  As I learned to cook, I also learned that most recipes geared toward the general populace are lacking in spice and pizazz.  I am very fond of savory foods. And pizazz.

Continue reading

The Origin of the Tooth Fairy (A fairy tale for Julien)

Photo by Mimipic Photography on Unsplash

“No!  Not like that.  Gently, gently.  The children will be sleeping and you mustn’t wake them.”

“Why?” Frannie asked her forehead all wrinkled with concentration.

“All I know is what they told me when I was training.  Both you and the children will be cursed from that day forward if the child sees you.”

“Because of teeth?”

“Because they saw the magic. The children are led to believe that we exchange the teeth for money.  Very few of them ever ask what we want the teeth for.  They mustn’t know that we turn the teeth into money. 

“But…”

No!  Stop. I don’t know why. It just is.  Think of it as a rule.”

“I’m never going to be able to do this.  It’s too hard.”

“It is not. It just takes finesse.  Let me show you again.’

Florence used her wand ever so gently to brush the tooth out from underneath the pillow.  She circled the tooth clockwise three times with her wand, and then lightly tapped the tooth. In a moment, the tooth was transformed into a pile of gleaming quarters.

“That’s more than the last one. What’s up with that?” Frannie asked.

“Don’t know. The wand decides how much money.  It’s always different.” Flossie then used the wand to sweep the gleaming quarters under the pillow one by one. ‘Sometimes it’s paper money.  That’s a little trickier to get under the pillow. Most of the time I just use my hand.  Slow and careful like. “

Continue reading

Where I’m From

Photo by Morten Andreassen on Unsplash
I am from moving boxes and the smell of kiwi shoe polish on combat boots.

I am from a home that was a group of people not a place.

Where the only constant was the Naugahyde sofa my brother teethed on,

And being the new kid.

I am from cross country road trips on Rt. 66 and missing an exit in St. Louis.  The Wigwam motel in Arizona and bathrooms you had to put a dime in the slot to use the toilets.

From mountains and oceans and deserts and verdant forests.

New telephone numbers and addresses and looking at maps to fix myself in space.

From “Daddy do we need gas yet?” and not “are we almost there?”

Where network television offered a constant – I watched Gilligan’s Island in California, Hawaii, Virginia, North Carolina and then as re-runs in every state since then.

I am from You don’t sound like you’re from around here.

I am from the places that when folks ask where I’m from, I say everywhere and nowhere.

I am from taps at sunset and men chanting cadence while running, standing with my hand over my heart at the movie theater when the national anthem was played,

And classmates whose fathers never came home.

Long-stay motels while waiting on housing and using an ironing board to do the worksheets my last teacher gave me to work on until I got back in school again.

30-day leaves, the ever-present green Stanley thermos in the car of the moment, and crisp uniforms.

And not being able to hang anything on the always white walls.

New churches, new schools, new friends, and all new clothes for the new climate.

I am from 29 addresses before I was 26. 

And now I am from a ramshackle barn in a ramshackle state where I’ve lived and loved for 37 years.  On a dirt road where home is now a place as well as a group of people.  Where I hang things on colorful walls and throw boxes away. Where I’ve had the same phone number for eons and friendships older than a couple of years. 

I am from Almost Heaven and happy to be here.
Continue reading