“Mud Season” by Ellen Stimson @ellenstimson

It started one late fall morning, when I read an excerpt from Ellen Stimson’s first book, “Mud Season” in “Reader’s Digest” that had me grinning and laughing. When my oldest son, age 13, woke up I suggested he read that mini tale about rain, cows, a skunk and chickens. He chuckled too. He did. Laughter is even better shared. That was sometime before Christmas. I then ordered several copies of “Mud Season” to give as gifts, and wrapped a copy for myself in Christmas paper too, Mom Style. I began to meander and mosey through it, reading while I ate my meals, often standing up in the kitchen. I’ve never been to Vermont. I love cheese. I’ve always wanted to visit New England. Some of my friends have chickens. I buy farm fresh eggs from them, brown and white ones. Part of me wants to move and live anywhere but here, but we’re staying put. We are. It’s A Good Spot. Earlier today, at 9:27am, I wrote in an email to a friend, “Lots to do and I just want to curl up with a book in bed and tell the world to go away. Maybe with an F thrown in, some days. Unplugging today as much as I can. Breakfast is next. Went to the store first.” Then, at 11:08am, I wrote to her again saying, “I just finished reading “Mud Season” by Ellen Stimson. Thought of you a lot as I read because I loved the way she told her story – honest, funny as hell, with excellent cussing. I sat and read in a quiet house, with my last cup of coffee, while my Blue dog snoozed on the love seat next to me, his head by my side. I’m crying because I read to the end and she included recipes – cheese and cream laden ones. Oh my. More too. All of it really. Through the past few years, during my husband’s cancer fight, I couldn’t read much, but I could write. I love to read and “Mud Season” was a fun book. Memoir. A saucy, sassy one.” The beauty of “Mud Season” is that it felt so much like a multilayered conversation with my closest girlfriends. They are an amazing group of strong, fascinating women with beautiful smiles and musical laughs, who simultaneously pray you through a storm and help you find your smile with stories from their lives. That’s what friends do. Books are friends too. They keep us company, teach us stuff and are meant to be shared, like a good meal and laughter. Poor, Ellen Stimson. I found her on twitter and have been tweeting to her as I read along. At 11:28am, after I finished reading, I tweeted her this picture and said briefly:
“Dear @ellenstimson,
I finished Mud Season this morning. Smiled, laughed and cried w/Blue by my side.
~Janean”
The end. Now the dog is awake, off the love seat and barking to go out. No more time to type, because nature calls, both the dog’s and the beauty of outdoors with glitter on the snow in sunlight under a blue sky, even if the temp is 1*F. It’s time for me to “write for real” with a purpose. Memoir. It beckons me. My first book, “The Blue Collection,” is hiding, right out in the open here at Tumblr. It is a collection of all these micro posts, poems and stories about me and my dog, Blue. Woof. Again. He’s really gotta go at 12:45pm.
(Time lapses.) I took the dog out. My Aunt Janet called as we circled the block. I didn’t slip on the ice as we talked and laughed rat a tat tat fast. Familial shorthand. I saw a friend walking her two little white dogs. Knew today her husband was to hear Doctor News. It wasn’t good. Damn it. Hugged her. Caregiver support. Walked home. Read and replied to emails. Tweeted some. Phone got down to 3% battery before I plugged it in. 2:16pm now, as I’m finally going to click, “post.” I know where the day has gone. Words. The ones I read, the ones I wrote, the ones I spoke. The day has been gobbled up with words. I just remembered to feed the dog. I can hear his food go crunch. It’s time for my lunch as my stomach growls a reminder. “Mud Season” charmed me. That’s what this post is about. I am a rambler. Brevity eludes me, except in poetry, and I’m OK with that.

February 7, 2014

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Life whirl

Life whirls by fast, like a marvelous dance.
Then the music stops and you’re dancing alone.

Some couples twirl for many decades.
They marry in their 20’s.
Their family grows with the arrival of babies.
Those babies grow to school age, then graduate from college.
Suddenly your babies have babies of their own.
Decades have flown.
The couple still holds hands and smiles.
They still stand and sway when music plays.
Inside they feel the same.
Outside their hair is silver.
They move a l’il slow, but get there.

Other couples have the music stop abruptly.
It’s the last thing they expect.
They spent a l’il over two decades together.
That’s all ‘twas meant to be.
She sat in the cemetery between their children,
as his body was laid to rest.
They won’t be dancing at their children’s weddings.
He’ll be watching from Heaven instead.

Life whirls by fast, like a marvelous dance.
Then the music stops and you’re dancing alone.
Life still whirls by at a breakneck pace.
Yet, your pace is set on savor.
Home feels good, like a cozy cocoon.
You venture out when necessary.
You pause and marvel at the sunrise.
You lift your face to feel the noonday sun.
You watch the moon wax then wane, and feel a tug.
Days pass.
Nights too.
Family and friends cross your doorstep.
Giving and receiving hugs for hello and goodbye.
Laughter returns, as joy bubbles from within.
Life whirls on.
Dance.
Set your own pace.

I do.
In the kitchen.
Alone.

December 19, 2013
I wish I could tag this “creative writing,” but it is a true story. Mine. After a two year and three month cancer fight, my husband died in August of this year. He had just turned 43. I was still 41. Now I’m 42. We were together over 21 years, counting from our first date. Together nearly half my life, married for 16. I didn’t want to write this poem, but when the words are there you learn to honor them and let them flow. Even when they make you cry crocodile tears that fall as you do. Perhaps this is why my dog was awake extra early today. Coffee and breakfast are next for me while my boys sleep a l’il longer and I can soak up the quiet of the house before chaos and commotion reign again. Zany. Crazy. Wild. Ornery. Rambunctious. Loud. LIFE! It is for living. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of today.
Love,
Janean

P.S. Nearly included this line, “Not quite four months ago, and it’s still hard to believe.” Adding it here as a footnote for now, to mull over later. It’s time to make that coffee, turn on music with the volume low, sing along and sway.

drip drop drip

my poet’s heart
is quiet
though my eyes
are leakin’ tears
they fall silently
I can’t always
suck ‘em back
Lord knows
I try
‘cause I really
hate to cry
my poet’s heart
is squeezing
beating
pumping life
yet quiet
drip drop drip
damn it
no time for tears
the sun is shining
a new day begins
gotta go embrace it
my tears will dry
either evaporate
or in the wind

February 23, 2013

leakin’ salt water

everything is making me cry today
gonna unplug
^ from the woman who totally sucks at it
solitude and quiet would be lovely
but they aren’t layered into the schedule
things to do
places to go
people to see, love, hug and care for
one big ole dog and striped cat too
so I will go and do
but I can’t read words today
not on Facebook
not on Caring Bridge
not on Twitter or Tumblr either
everything is making me cry today

December 6, 2012

today I am thankful for sunglasses
that shield my tired eyes
from prying ones
the tears I didn’t want to cry
fell anyway
from my weary, tired eyes
I’ve found sunglasses work best
if you can conjure up a little smile
to go with them
then no one stops to wonder
why your eyelids only open to half mast
‘cause they are fallin’ for your smile
the smile that doesn’t quite reach
your UV glass protected eyes

August 30, 2012