“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

neighborly help

No school here
Lots of snow
Just in from shoveling
Was gonna just do front porch and steps
Then a path to sidewalk
Then sidewalk
Then half the drive
Threw Blue inside for nonstop woofing
Kept shoveling
Boys zzzz’ing
Boys who were wild, knowing it was gonna be a snow day, and didn’t go to bed until sometime after 10pm
Was about ready to say, “Enough”
Then I saw Snowblowerman
My hero today 🙂
Not that I wasn’t gonna take my oldest son up on his offer to help me shovel today
I was
But the neighbor who was snowblowing his sidewalk kept coming my way
I’d done my part of the sidewalk and a little more already
It was that driveway
He offered, said it’d just take a sec, commented, “That’s some drift.”
It really was
I accepted and said, “Thank you.”
He really was done lickety split
I stayed outside while he worked
Kept my shovel moving
Just a few back and forth passes, stopping to adjust where the snow was blowing, then done, “Voila”
I said, “Thank you” again
And added, “That was amazing.”
I’m not even sure which house he lives in, just the direction he walked from, blowing snow as he arrived and as he left
Done now
So thankful that it is
Kindness
Neighbors helping neighbors
I love my neighborhood
Where Blue dog and I manage to have all sorts of Adventures before 7:00am

February 5, 2014

hostage situation

My ten year old son just said to me from the kitchen, “I have the olives as hostage, until you tell me where the yard stick is.”
(I’m laughing in reply.)
“I took the olives first because I know you like them best.”
“I took the whole pantry hostage.”
“No more large pitted olives from the pearl company.”
“No more mini moos half and half”
“No more honey, grade A.”
(A longer list goes here that I didn’t all type.)
“Tell me where the yardstick is and you’ll have all these objects back.”
“No more cake mixes, Mom.”
(Oh…there’s more…it’s not bedtime or anything. Maybe I should give him the yardstick?! He wants it to measure Blue’s tail.)
“Let’s see what else I should take for ransom…”
“I have the battery charger on ransom.”
“No more white distilled vinegar.”
“Where’s the yardstick?!
(Answers his own question) “Oh. Found it.”
(To the dog) “Hey, Blue, can you lay down?”
“No more mini marshmallows.”
“No more dark chocolate.”
“No hot traditional salsa. Even though I don’t see anything hot about it.”
“No more brooms.”
“No more measuring cup.”
Me: “That’s to measure Blue’s food with.”
10 year old: “Well, you’ll have to guess now!”
This is where the pantry hostage taking standoff ended at 9:27pm. That is when I walked into the kitchen from the family room to see all the items he held hostage from the pantry stacked on the counter. Tomorrow is soon enough to shove them all back in. By 9:41pm my youngest son was tucked into bed with his covers all straightened out from last nights acrobatic sleeping and the bedside light on. Never a dull moment. I’m so glad!

January 29, 2014

“Logging off Facebook and walking to my art table now. It’s that badass kickass red dragon that did it. I’ve made red dragon art and black dragon art. Dragons are part of my imagery. Thank you. It was the picture, more than the words that got my attention and said, ‘THIS MEANS YOU!’”

Above is the comment I wrote in the thread underneath this dragon photo on Facebook. Of course, I didn’t do it IMMEDIATELY. Now lunch is next. Good thing is that Blue is snoozing. Tired dog today. Smiling at him conked out, dreaming peacefully. I swear, my dog sleeps like a cat!

The caption under the dragon photo, written by Sarah Prineas, read, “Jump-In January Dragon Week Day Four (16th)
Today’s Dragon: Getting serious…” There was more to her encouraging post. She made her Facebook page a place Creatives could gather, name their goals aloud and keep themselves accountable to follow through. Cool.

Today I delivered six pieces of my artwork for a three month show (and hope for a possible sale). While it is the first time these six pieces are being shown together, or in this venue, they are a few years “old.” All six were made in 2012. Three in July and three in September. It is now 2014 and time to make new, but first I have some begun and abandoned pieces of art to return to and complete. It is time. Today. Right after lunch.

Facing dragons one by one. You have to face them before you can slay them. I am a Dragon Slayer. It says so on my handmade business cards in invisible ink. I know it’s there. I can own it. I do.

January 16, 2014

Dragon image from: http://blackmarches.wikidot.com/red-dragon-king

I can’t make you

turquoisetangle:

I can’t make you

I wish I could

you’re bigger than me

I can’t stop you

you won’t listen

I won’t beg

do what you have to do

the door closes

I cry then

my eyes are dry now

no longer tired

I wonder

when you will come home

knowing that you will

I won’t call

you know the way

when you’re ready

come home

even though

I can’t make you

© 2011 Turquoise Tangles

That feeling when someone suddenly “Tumblr loves” something you wrote a few years ago. You reread it. Sigh deeply and cuss (just in your head). Somehow you nearly forgot. Does anyone else tag real life personal drama as, “creative writing” and hope the outer facade of reality doesn’t crack? No, me either. After tagging that way a few times my husband “called me on it” so I stopped. Stopped writing quite so honestly. Stopped tagging anything “creative writing.” Started talking about the dog, Blue, then just a puppy. A lot. Time flies. Speed varies. I’ve logged nearly 1,000 posts here at Tumblr since joining in November 2011. Poems. Photographs. Stories. Quotes. Reblogs. All tweeted too, if you’re counting. The best, most interesting, jaw dropping, heart aching, twisting, tugging, wrenching, soaring writing from the past several years has all been done behind the scenes. Just in case you’re wondering, this poem, written on a long ago night, was foreshadowing. I’m glad I was brave enough to write it and say it at the time. I still remember the fight. Faded. Fading. Letting go. We were fire and fire, fire and ice, hot and cold. Yet, we ended “just right.” We came through the fire, all pride set aside, and we loved with our walls down for the very first time.

January 6, 2014

Time to play, “The Matching Game.” It was my husband who collected Hallmark ornaments. First Star Trek and then later, when they were released, Star Wars. He always said they were worth more if we kept the boxes too. Unpacking boxes and unwrapping from bubble wrap to hang them on the tree. Then, less than a month later, pairing up the ornament with the picture on the box and wrapping them up in plastic bubble protection once more. Love. His for space movies and their universe of collectibles. Mine for him. Our sons share his love of SciFi. I’m boxing them up carefully because someday this collection will be divided between my boys and hang in their respective homes. When that day comes there will be room on my tree for different ornaments. You know, all the non-SciFi ones.

January 1, 2014
2:35pm
I’m still procrastinating by writing, but at least I started AND I’m standing up!

I kid you not

Voices drifting up, through the heating vent in the living room floor, I just heard the almost 13 year old neighbor guy say, “Somewhere over the rainbow?”

My oldest son (13 1/2) replied, “Might be over the storm clouds.”

Odds are good they are talking video games. But seriously?! I just wrote about singing a few bars of that song, while walking on the sidewalk, across the street from where our side by side houses are! I’m not making this up! My writing is memoir, not fiction, especially the really weird, crazy and not too whackadoodle stuff.

January 1, 2014
2:04pm
(My jean clad azz is off the cozy love seat spot and I am standing up. Blue dog stretched out and is resting his head upon a striped pillow. Life is good, especially for the napping dog.)

barefoot in boots
this morning
grabbed ‘em fast
cowgirl kind
my pair for courage
I’ve worn ‘em
for the past two years
dog’s been gnawing
on my snow boots
snow is melting
rain is falling today
leather cowgirl boots
were fine for driving
both my boys to school
my newest pair o’boots
are sporting zebra stripes
they are made of plastic
perfect for puddles
and walking in the rain
it’ll be rain boots
for the rest of today

December 20, 2013

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.

Loving my backyard hangout spot, with my jean-clad butt plopped on a corner of the patio, not in a chair. My bare feet are in the grass and my toes are tapping and I am singing along to the Praise songs playing from my ipad mini. I’m posting this via mobile of course! My silver laptop, with letters long ago worn off the keys, awaits. The luxury of a full keyboard is a new one, after writing so much tapping via a tiny touch screen. That Birthday Dog is eating grass. Ugh. Best of all, the oven timer just went off, which means later today there will be a delectable chocolate cake. Maybe it seems silly to you to make all this fuss over a dog’s birthday, thinking, “Two years old, big whoop. He’s a dog.” It’s so much more than that though, as most things in life are. There are many layers and undertones. We bought Blue seven months into my husband’s two years and three month long cancer fight. That dog saved me. Blue got me out of the house and under the sky, at all hours of the day and night, walking, moving, and helped me take off the stress induced, comfort food eating, weight. A month ago my husband’s soul went to Heaven. He is no longer in pain. It was four weeks ago on Monday, but it is a calendar month today. Since I was a young girl being outside made it better. Whatever “it” was in my life, being outdoors soothed me from the inside out. I need the grass between my toes, the sun on my face and the breeze blowing my dark brown hair. Blue knows Outside Makes It Better too. He’s a really smart pup, my Blue. I love him more than I should, but that’s the beauty of love, you don’t divide it, you multiply it. A lesson from my mother. She’s really smart too!
~ Janean

September 26, 2013