Promises Kept – Part 2

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Lydia arrives at Petersen’s Rock Garden

I wasn’t sad to lose Lydia. I knew the day would eventually come when either someone would shoot her out of distaste for her obnoxious vocalizations, or I would take her somewhere else to live. Fortunately, the later occurred first.

The thing with driving four hours with a Peahen in the backseat, is that stopping for any length of time really isn’t possible. I knew she was cramped in the pet carrier and didn’t want to stress her anymore than necessary. I did, however, stop at Beckie’s on Highway 62 for an ice cream cone.

We arrived in eastern Oregon in the early evening. I followed my GPS instructions to where I was supposed to be… and nothing. I backtracked a couple of miles, turned off the GPS and paid close attention to signs, finally locating Petersen’s Rock Garden as the sun was dipping behind the hills.

I knocked on the door of the house that seemed the most habitable and introduced myself to the woman who answered. She wasn’t all that impressed that I’d brought Lydia, though I’d called her from Grants Pass before I left to let her know I was coming. I hurried to show her that I’d also picked up a big bag of poultry feed to help out with the feeding of the resident Peafowl flock, and to show my appreciation for Lydia’s adoption. It was the only time I saw the woman smile.

I then took Lydia’s pet carrier out of the car, carefully put in on the ground and popped the wire door open. I faced the opening toward a large green lawn where a particularly stunning Peacock was strutting around. I waited. Lydia remained in the carrier. I waited some more. I started to talk quietly to her, trying to convince her to come out into her new world. I sat on the grass beside her and waited some more. As I sat, I began to notice the menagerie that is Petersen’s Rock Garden… and the Peafowl started to emerge from the bushes like the Munchkins emerging in the Wizard of Oz to check out Dorothy.

Lydia finally conceded and stepped out of the carrier like an emerging princess. She ruffled her feathers and looked around. Sure enough, she headed straight for the Peacock…but not too quickly, because, you know, royalty never hurries.

I wondered then, what was going through Lydia’s mind. I wondered what Peahens think about. How they think. What they see. What they feel. I wondered this as Lydia made her way toward the glorious bird that was the spitting image of her deceased lover.

I suppose I’ll never really know what Lydia thought. But, she stopped about 10 feet from the Peacock and turned around to look my way for a few seconds, as if to say “Thank you.” At least that’s what I’m believing…

But, there is one other thing that she could have been looking back at. When Lydia left the carrier she left behind… one last infertile egg. Maybe she was wondering about that. Whatever was on her mind, she turned back around and made her way to the awaiting Pea King…

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The Mother Files ~ Writing the Legacy Story

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1963. Standing by my grandfather’s work truck with my parents, and older brother. It never occurred to me that the name on the truck was misspelled. My grandfather’s name was Clyde.

When we embark on telling a story – any kind of story – we draw fuel from the belief there will be someone who wants to hear it – someone who cares. Telling a story to the disinterested quickly loses its momentum and becomes drudgery. But telling a story to someone who wants to hear it is different.

For writers like me, we must first convince ourselves there is someone who cares about what we are about to say. At first, we all must make up our audience. Even if they are real people, we must at least imagine their attention.

There is something else that makes for powerful storytelling. Strangely, we must protect our stories from our audience. We must not allow them to bully the story’s emergence. Therein lies the conundrum – We want our audience to care, to be touched and affected by the story. But, we must protect the story from the audience much as we nurture our children, shielding them from forces that could harm them, or mold them in harmful ways.

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My grandfather was a clocksmith. Clocks lined every wall in my grandparent’s crumbling house in Porterville, California. At night I would lay away listening to them tick and sound their chimes, sounds my grandparents had grown immune to.

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My older brother at my grandparent’s  house in California the day after my grandmother’s funeral… and the day before he told me he was going to kill me.

Legacy stories are even more important in terms of leaving behind our memories to our children and grandchildren in the most accurate way we are able. For many years I have wondered how best to do this, considering many of the stories I have to share are difficult to tell. Many others are not hard to recount at all, and make me happy in their telling.

Legacy stories, to be of value in showing our children who we are, need to include the full spectrum of these experiences, told as accurately as we can tell them. But, then, what of the idea that nobody really cares? Or that, difficult stories are best left to die? Honestly, I think that’s a crock of shit. I think it takes courage to tell an honest story. And sometimes it takes just as much courage to receive it.

Will there be anyone interested and brave enough to read my Legacy Story? Maybe. Maybe not. For now, I’m going to make up my audience. I’m going to convince myself that one day they will care. One day, they will want to know who I was, and what made me the woman I became. I want my Legacy Story to be written by me, not, in the best case scenario, posthumously. Or the worst case, not at all. Clock5

I wondered how I was going to actually come at this task of writing a Legacy Story. I’ve had several false starts, but I always come back to it and I would start again. What perspective do I write from? The view of me at the age when I had the experience? The view of me, now, as a grown woman? I’ve used images to provide writing prompts, and that has helped some. I started compiling mini-pieces, images and thought snippets, and dropped them into files (both digital, on my computer, and in a desktop file). I’m calling my Legacy Story project “The Mother Files.” It fits. It makes sense to me. And, since I’m the Mother, and this story is mine, I’m not planning on asking anyone to verify the accuracy of my recollections.

Clock4I was in Sylva, North Carolina exploring with my boyfriend, Dale, in the fall of 2014 when we wandered into a used bookstore. Toward the back of the musty shop I found a clearance table where I picked up a pristine copy of Linda Spence’s “Legacy – A Step by Step Guide to Writing Personal History.” As I flipped through the book I realized that the universe had handed me what I’d been needing. Spence’s book is literally a guided process for first recollecting, and then chronicling our life stories.

One of my major goals for 2015 is to faithfully work through this process, getting as much of it down and preserved as possible so that one day, my children can curl up on the coach by a fire much like the one I am sitting by now to write, and understand a little bit more about what makes them who they are. I can only offer the part I contributed to, I know. But, knowing even a little bit gives us all something to build on.

On becoming a non-monk…

Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.

                              ~ Soren Kierkegaard

I drove into Lake Lure, North Carolina from the south under a monochrome grey sky feeling like I was searching for something. I wound my way around the micro inlet communities where everyone seemed to have a private dock. Mostly, the place seemed barren, but only until I hit the two blocks of downtown area near the entrance of Chimney Rock State Park.Rob1

I was having a hard time finding a place to park Clementine, and almost gave up and kept driving except… I didn’t. I pulled over to give myself time to think and to let the annoying tailgater clear away from my bumper. When the traffic passed I looked up to discover that I was sitting right across the street from an intriguing hand-painted ambulance.

I didn’t immediately embrace this serendipitous experience. I had once dated an artist who initially seemed normal – or as normal as a contemporary multi-media artist can be. Within a few months he had a severe paranoid schizophrenic break, and he never fully recovered  from it. His art looked like the art on the ambulance and I sat for a long time recalling things I didn’t want to remember.

Rob-5Still, I grabbed my camera and decided to get a closer look. That is how I met Brother Rob Seven. I’d made my way around the Armageddon Art Ambulance twice when Rob approached holding a fresh cup of coffee, smiling a smile he’d probably smiled thousands of times before. Expecting questions that he’s probably answered hundreds and hundreds of times. But, those questions didn’t materialize. Instead, somehow we started talking about creating vacuum space in our lives by purging stuff and the dynamics of empty space and getting rid of things we think we need, but that we really don’t. I think we were both intrigued by a conversation that took on its own life, pulled forward by its own need to create itself. Weird, since we were talking about basically uncreating things…

Rob said that he’d had the golden babydoll head crowned monstrosity for a decade, and thought he was ready to jettison it to see what would materialize in its place. We talked of possibilities and he mentioned the idea of a monastery out of the blue (or I mentioned it… Well, honestly, I know it had to be one of us…) . I told him about my experience at Mt. Shasta Abbey in northern California and the brief consideration I’d given to abbey life myself.

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I told Rob that I wasn’t willing to give up sex or my hair, but that I’d learned a great deal about myself and what attracted me to life in an abbey. It turns out, I told him, I really just liked peace, and I also enjoyed hanging out with monks. I happily discovered that I was welcome to visit Mt. Shasta Abbey anytime, and to hang out with the monks as often and for as long as I liked. I didn’t need to take the drastic step of becoming a monk to do that. I was never pressured or expected to “become” anything other than I already was. They said they liked the “non-monk” me. So, I came when I felt like I needed to be there. I left when I felt I needed to go. I peeled eggs, and potatoes and carrots in the kitchen. I meditated for hours in the temple. And then I went home… peaceful. Happy. Feeling loved and accepted.

Rob’s face relaxed as he considered what I’d just said. I noticed that I actually liked this man. He wasn’t cloaking anything. He wasn’t behaving like a goofy assed actor. He was standing in front of me with his eyes open and clear, talking to me about real things like creating living, open space as its own entity, a thing of value. I hadn’t really even planned to talk about Mt. Shasta Abbey, which I consider a fairly personal subject. It just blurted itself out through my mouth when Rob mentioned the idea of “becoming” a monk. It even seem off topic when it came up. But, I could tell by the look on his face that this fragment of conversation meant something to him. That it would be on the edge of his mind, until it didn’t need to be anymore.

Rob-2We talked more of art’s ability in creating dynamic experience. I was listening to Rob intently knowing that this was the reason I was drawn to come back to Lake Lure, to wade through the New Year tourist traffic and my trepidation of having a sincere conversation with another potential lunatic. Its the kind of conversation where everything else blurs and time both speeds up and slows down simultaneously.

Eddie Cabbage didn’t know when he slowed his car and leaned out his window that he stumbled into such a strange moment. He seemed like just another tourist enamored with Rob’s painted art project, and who would be content with holding up a dorky thumbs up and driving on. Apparently I was wrong. Eddie and Rob were acquainted from the Asheville art scene and Eddie is what is called a Poet Busker – an artist specializing in creating poetry on demand on his antique typewriter. Eddie parked his car and bustled over to greet his friend. And the magical moment woke up.

I stood back and watched the two conversing, reminding myself that this experience was priceless and unique, and not to mourn its passing. I didn’t really know how to disengage from it. So, I just kept stepping away. I felt blessed and felt pretty sure our paths would cross again someday.

As I returned to Clementine I mentally took note of what it was that Rob had said that made so much sense in that moment. I realized that it was the idea of intentionally creating open space as a thing of value. Of releasing possessions that we collect to protect us against being destitute, when, in our aging years, its actually the releasing of things that creates open mental space, freeing us to use that new territory to explore new thoughts and new ideas.

Yes, I decided, I liked Brother Rob Seven quite a lot. But, even more, our exchange reminded me  of what the Mt. Shasta monks had taught me about my own non-monk self. I liked me too.
~~~~~~~~

Additional Note: 1.3.14

I almost never add on to blog posts, or articles, but I do have something else to say about meeting Rob, and his Emerge-N-See Art Ambulance:

I mentioned that I was wary of approaching the ambulance because of the disturbing memories it elicited from my past. In retrospect, I see that was a huge part of why I am grateful for running across Rob and his creation. The ambulance gave me the chance to venture back in my memory to something that horrified me and that I had shoved away and kept at distance. The ambulance beckoned me to “emerge-n-see” what would happen if I just took a few steps toward that nightmare.

I also mentioned that I initially thought my former boyfriend was “normal.” That isn’t an accurate or fair statement. What is accurate is that I thought that even in the midst of his creativity, that he was sane. I realize this is a very sensitive subject, and one I plan to explore much deeply for myself. For now, suffice it the say that I don’t have the capacity to expose myself on a day-to-day basis with very real, dark, knuckle grating paranoid schizophrenic psychosis. I don’t like where I must go in an attempt to reach and communicate with the clinically insane. It was a part of myself that I was introduced to that I have been unable to reconcile. Very seldom do I give up. But, I gave up.

I remember sitting in the corner when I was a little girl and reading (and rereading) the Time Life Book on the Mind. I was particularly drawn to the section that showed insane people chained to walls. It made my heart hurt. (Really, when I looked at those pictures, and later, when I could read the captions and articles, my heart literally hurt.)

Then, later, I found myself in the midst of that nightmare, immersed in a relationship with a man who moved in and out of recognizing me. He had several guns in the house, and made altars out of jewelry (mine), doll parts and foil in order to build a vehicle for escape and space travel. I left when I no longer felt safe, and when I felt my own sanity slipping. I brought food and clothes to him, but I did not stay. He eventually moved into the Veterans Domociliary, into their pscyh ward. I took him some art supplies and some food. But, he was only slightly closer to lucidity than when I’d last seen him.

I told him that I was coming east to work on a documentary project. And for a moment his eyes cleared and took on a desperate pleading look. “Please take me with you,” he begged, his voice breaking with emotion. In that moment I felt like I’d failed him. And, in my own preservation, I was about to fail him again – knowingly.

“I can’t take you with me. I don’t know how to take care of you.” I told him. He slumped back in his chair, like a child. I bent over, and kissed the back of his hand, and left.

~~~

As I walked around Rob’s Emerge-N-See Ambulance I felt the little girl in me peeking around the corner. And when Rob walked across the road with his coffee and clear blue eyes, I felt safe. Art does not have to equate to insanity. I was invited to consider new perspectives. New intellectual territory and heart land. I just don’t have to carry them all as my own if they don’t resonate with my soul.

 

Love’s Perfect Timing… Finding Elias Part 6

“Life was always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act.” ~ Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)

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Elias

Driving into the beachside parking lot where Elias was waiting, my senses amplified like the mid-air firing of a rocket booster. Only a few times in my life do I remember this happening. Usually, these episodes happened just before an athletic event when I was warming up for a race.

I heard the crunching and felt the grit of the gravel under Clementine’s tires; My temples and jaw tingled like I’d just taken a bite of a sour lime sorbet; Everything looked too bright and too focused. It was a hyper present moment. I wasn’t appreciating it. I could have done without the side effects, thank you very much.

The “why’s” of it don’t matter. I was about to see the flesh of my flesh. Blood of my blood… And I couldn’t stop the tears. I did, eventually. I dowsed them. Wiped them. Took a big swig of cold water, parked, got out and walked to Amy. I probably hugged her too hard.  I then slid in the backseat next to Elias. Poor little guy… Sooooo not used to this woman’s big energy.

I didn’t want to scare him, so I tried not to be overly… anything. Still, I couldn’t help but touch his hand. His blonde hair. I leaned over and gently kissed his fingers where they held onto his car seat. He didn’t look at me at first, and then just fleeting, curious glances. I tried not to talk too much. I let Amy take the lead, gently guiding conversation.

On a different plane, I started to hear a gentle murmuring, and started to relax. Yes, I’m one of those grandmother’s who will admit that I am a “Hearer.” I hear things most others don’t. There are people who “see” things – nuances, spirits, glimpses of other worlds and times. They are the “Seers.” While I do sometimes, mainly, I am a Hearer. This is interesting since my physical hearing is waning. Maybe that makes hearing the ethereal easier for me. I don’t know the answer to that. And I digress, which will undoubtedly keep happening.

Amy had planned for us to visit the local aquarium, botanical gardens and finally, the beach. The weather was cold, overcast and rainy and I could tell she was stressed and wanted the day to go well. I wanted her to know that anything we did would be fine with me, as long as I could be close to Elias. So, we went first to the aquarium… Eye contact was rare... but precious.

Mainly, I watched Elias from a distance during the first part of the day, primarily because he moved fast, and I had a hard time keeping up with him. Second, because I transform into a little girl, or… the little girl in me emerges when I am in an aquarium, especially standing in front of floating jelly fish, sea turtles, sea horses and, for the first time ever… face to face with a manatee.

It was in the aquarium that Elias decided to claim me. He turned toward me, held out his hand and beckoned me from across the aquarium room. “Come ON!…” Before then, I was just a tag along, a stranger. When he called to me… my heart swelled. I still gave him space, but I stayed closer, watching his eyes, his gaze, his 3-year-old finger pointing into the touch tank.

Back in the car, I sat with Elias quietly while Amy and her boyfriend took a breather and a short walk. I wondered if Elias was going to drift off for a nap. His head leaned back in his seat, he was gazing up into the sky. I listened to his breathing. And realized that there is a Love much different than what we have for our own children. And it’s a much different strain than we have for our lovers. I was feeling the lovely nuances of it. I felt it deeply then – the thunderous, juicy Love we have for a grandchild. I leaned my own head back on the seat and closed my eyes. And then I heard it – Elias’ sweet sigh. He leaned forward, put his hands on his knees and turned to me… “Oh gamma Dell, I miss you, too…”

“…Oh, sweet boy, I have missed you…” Sweet Elias' heart.

It’s important to say at this point that I have only seen Elias four times since his birth. And each of those times he never acknowledged me. This moment is something I will treasure forever.

This blog post was difficult for me to write, I admit. I have shared a very little bit of our day together. But, I have shared the parts that tell the important part of the story. And this is it… I fell in Love with my grandson even deeper. And I am so very thankful to Amy for helping it happen.

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Elias making images at the botanical garden. Wonder what he sees…

Finding Elias Part 5 ~ I am…

Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations. ~ Ryunosuke Satoro

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Well, I’m here… Now what?


Most things aren’t like I expect them to be when I’m finally face to face with them, especially when I’ve been imagining them for so long. I prefer my imagination. I keep reminding myself that, as Steinbeck says, “the journey’s the thing.”

I had read that Weeki Watchee Springs was a “little burg” that had conceived of, and built, Weeki Watchee Mermaid Park as a way to lure travelers into their economically waning little community in the late 1940s.

When I made my way into the “town” of Weeki Wachee, I discovered that, in fact, it was a sprawling south Florida megatropolis built primarily around a north-south highway. Fortunately, I had arrived in the middle of the night and didn’t have to navigate maniacal traffic, or deal with throngs of tourists.

Instead, I pulled into a massive deserted parking lot reminiscent of Disneyland, and navigated Clementine up to one of the dozen or so larger than life mermaid statues, painted white so many times the surface appeared similar to a well coated old farmhouse. I got out, stretched my back and stood at the front gate, identical mermaids spread out to my left and to my right. I could hear a few midnight drivers whipping by on the highway behind me, and I felt oddly self conscious. I looked up to see a surveillance camera aimed directly at me…blinking red. It made me think of National Lampoon’s Vacation, and the Griswold’s cross country trek to Wally World.MermaidStatue

At first I thought I might as well just crawl into Clementine and sleep right there in the parking lot. But, frankly, even though Weeki Watchee is a designated state park facility, I wasn’t so sure the local SWAT crew wasn’t going to come racing out at any moment to eradicate me. I pulled further out into the lot and opened up my trunk and car doors to organize, let in some fresh air and eat something.

Just as I was pulling on a fresh pair of Levis a white state park service truck whizzed by within a few yards without stopping, though the driver seemed fairly interested in what I was doing… I thought this was quirkily interesting since it was about 2 a.m. I pulled my can of Mace out of the back window and slid it into my hoodie pocket while I finished packing my car, and finally decided to drive on toward Bradenton Beach.

Though the rain had stopped and the sky was clear I still knew I needed to find a place to sleep soon because my eyes were blurry and I was making some really stupid driving mistakes. I honestly don’t even know what town I was in when I found a Starbucks parking lot to stop in for some shut eye. I do know I slept with my hand around the Mace can, but overall felt pretty safe. The advantage of the location, I reasoned, was knowing where I would be getting a hot cup of coffee the minute I woke up.

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My kinda breakfast…

My dreams were again of water, deep water, rushing water… and being moved around by it, but not hurt…

I woke up realizing that I had, again… slept through an intense rainstorm. Everywhere around me there was standing water and the sky was still brooding dark. I stumbled into Starbucks and ordered the largest coffee I could. I imagine I looked like a vagrant, but the early morning baristas were witty and warm. Back outside I pulled a bottle of Irish Creme liquor out of Clementine’s trunk and spiked my coffee. Soon, I was on my way to Bradenton Beach, about an hour’s drive south. In Florida it seemed everything was always … south…

To get to Brandenton Beach, one must first navigate Bradenton. I did not like Bradenton, even in the early morning hours before the natives awoke and filled the roadways with their luxury cars. I suppose I was hyper alert for lurking revenuing cops, which is why I seemed to be reading a lot of lit up signs. It occurred to me that many folks don’t seem to put much thought into signage. And, maybe they should…

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Perhaps a little bit more thought was in order…

Soon enough I escaped Bradenton proper and followed the signs to the beach. Houses got smaller and signs invited me to buy shells… lots of shells… everywhere shells. Then I saw it, a cross between a car and an overstated art project with dual mermaid tail fins. I made a fast u-turn and pulled into the parking lot of The Sea Hagg. All I can say is that… it felt so good to laugh… and laugh… and laugh. I imagine if anyone was watching that morning I would have appeared insane. What I found at the Sea Hagg was what I’d hoped to find at Weeki Wachee. Hilarious whimsical fantasy… The Sea Hagg had that in spades.

I pulled out my camera and circled the heavy black iron fence shooting in the dim morning light, since the shop wouldn’t be open until later in the morning. I made a mental note to make time to return to the Sea Hagg on my way back to St. George Island that evening, entered the coordinates into my GPS under “Favorites” and drove on to Bradenton Beach.

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Twin tails. How could I resist a u-turn?

When I finally arrived at the beach I found a parking lot with beach access, walked out to the surf and watched a surfer huddled on his board about 50 yards out, waiting out an early morning storm burst. The wind was whipping the tips of the waves and I started to taste sand. And I started to worry about what we were we going to do, since “playing at the beach” with Elias was clearly not going to happen. I never saw the surfer attempt a wave, and wondered what the hell was going through HIS mind at that moment.

I looked at my iPhone and realized it was nearing the time for my rendezvous with Elias and Amy, his mom. After a flurry of texts, we gravitated toward a meeting spot. When I pulled in I felt my heart stuttering. I was about to spend the day with my grandson, something I had looked forward to for so long. I parked… and swallowed the lump in my throat.

“All is well…,” I kept repeating. “All is well…”…  I am here. I am… here. I am.

There is nothing else but now.

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I am… here now.

Finding Elias Part 4 – Sea Haggs & Mermaids

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“Darwin may have been quite correct in his theory that man descended from the apes of the forest, but surely woman rose from the frothy sea, as resplendent as Aphrodite on her scalloped chariot.” ~ Margot Datz, A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids

Finding Elias Part 4 – In Search of Sea Haggs & Mermaids

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“Mermaids don’t drown.” ~ Suzanne Palmieri, The Witch of Belladonna Bay: A Novel

There is an internal clock that ticks in my psyche. I think it is linked through my DNA to ancient ancestors who roamed the landscape. The connection and cellular memory have less to do with what these people were doing, than the fact they were simply moving, roaming, making their way across the geography of a place.

Those closest to me have mostly considered this a bane of my personality. Most of all, I suppose, would be my children. This is one point we markedly disagree on. I think – considering our lives together – that I have created “home” wherever we have been, whether in Idaho, California or Oregon. I do understand the difficulty of making new friends in new places. Still, I consider that a valuable skill. I suppose this subject deserves its own essay… For now, let’s just agree that I am a bonafide vagabond by choice, and I did my best to tone it down for 34 years of mothering. I don’t have to do that anymore, so I’m not.

Moving on…

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Props to Jeremy at Harry A’s for feeding a hungry traveler after the kitchen closed! May the mermaids whisper your name in adoration from henceforth!

I sat with Donna & Keith in Harry A’s, a little cafe/bar on St. George Island. They’d just treated me to a table full of fresh seafood and a Corona… and I heard the ticking grow louder in my brain. Donna must have heard it too, because she kept peering out at the darkening sky and finally said… “I think you need to go… now.”

I didn’t take offense, because I have known Donna Darling for over 10 years. She says what’s on her mind. She cares about me. She is a wise traveler, and she wanted me to get as far down the road as I could toward Bradenton Beach before it got dark and another storm made driving difficult. I agreed and we headed back to their beach house so I could pack up, grab my scrounged seashells and dead sea stars, share hugs and say goodbye. (…Only for a day, though, because I’d invited myself back to hang out with them for Thanksgiving… I can do that with Donna and Keith. They’re about as flexible and welcoming as people get…)

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The sea has eyes…

Oh, what to dial into the GPS???…

Bradenton Beach? Or… Weeki Watchee?

It’s getting late. It’s dark. I know I will not make it to Bradenton Beach before morning, and I reason that Weeki Watchee Springs (the infamous home of mermaids…) lies between me and my final destination. Like a siren’s song I am pulled there and punch the coordinates into my GPS. Who cares that I’ll be arriving around midnight. Seems fitting… Never mind that I won’t see any mermaids. I’m going anyway. I can’t help myself. I pull up Pandora on my iPhone, find my Shakey Graves Channel and drive on into the night toward south Florida in search of Sea Haggs and Mermaids…

To be continued…

Finding Elias… Goodbye Friend

“Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Of all of the images I made on my trip to Florida, this one is the most precious to me. Elias had been playing with another little boy in the Children’s Corner at the botanical garden. Their exchange wasn’t always the most congenial, but they figured it out after awhile. When it came time for the other little boy to leave, Elias was very engaged in the separation from his new friend. I watched Elias negotiate it emotionally, and that was the most precious part.

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My grandson, Elias, 3, saying goodbye to his new friend.

Elias understood that his playmate was leaving. He took a few steps toward the door and gently waved goodbye. The thing with Elias is that his tenderness is unmasked. He is as real a human being as it gets. I feel incredibly blessed to spend time with him, especially when he throws his arms around my neck and giggles in my ear. ((sigh))