Hawthorne, Wild and Fair

A bird must have planted the tree. I certainly didn’t. I would have judged the spot too close to the house. But birds and seeds have no such restrictions, and so this wild Hawthorne tree is close enough to the window where I drink my morning cup of tea, I could reach out and touch it without moving from the pillow I lean against on the window seat.

The tree is a little taller than the first story roof of my house, has multiple trunks, none of which are as big around as my forearm, and thin branches that have twisted and tangled with one another. In summer, the leaves are green with burgundy edges, then turn to russet and plum in the fall. Now, in early April, the branches are bare except for the thorns they wear in all seasons. Last night an alchemist wearing a pastry chef’s hat came and changed the tree into a lacy confection iced with thick powdered-sugar snow.

The chickadees use the branches as an unlikely anvil to crack open sunflower seeds they glean from the nearby feeder. The stellar jay causes the tree to shrug off its coat of snow when the branches dip and spring back as he flies from his perch and takes his turn at the feeder.

To have a tree by the window is to enjoy a bit of Eden. It rests my eyes, delights my heart, and satisfies my mind. It is the perfect gift I did not ask for. Instead, I asked that my soul would not famish, * and a bird planted a seed.

*Proverbs 10:3 The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish.

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Socks and Silverware

I worship at the altar of organization. I read the books, articles, and blog posts that promise me 30 Days to an Organized Life. I have a Pinterest board that shows beautiful pictures of ways to organize everything from my mud room to my spice drawer.

Somehow, I feel if I were organized I would have time for all the things I want to do and don’t get to do. I could go on holiday. Read best sellers. Get manicures. Learn to tap dance. I would have a vibrant life, or at least I wouldn’t feel guilty if I did those things because while I was doing those things, my UN-organized life wouldn’t be bleating pitifully in the background. Instead, it would be organized, chugging along automatically, keeping itself charged and on the right course.

If and when I needed to turn to my organized life and retrieve, say, the tape measure to find out whether that cute bookcase I saw at the thrift store would fit in my study, I would know right where to look. The tape measure would be exactly where it should be. I wouldn’t have to look in six different places to find it. I wouldn’t have to buy a new tape measure. I wouldn’t have to resort to stepping-off the space and making a mental note that the bookcase cannot be more than eight steps by two and a half steps. No. Life would be streamlined. Simple. Easy. Organized. Happy.

Yes, I go to church at Our Lady of Organization. However, my religion hasn’t come home with me. My closets are muddled. My cupboards are eclectic. My drawers are jumbled. My office space is toxic.

I’ve put Get Organized on my list of yearly goals once again. It’s right next to Simplify My Life. I’ve made a list of the spaces I should attack, and my blogs are on the list because I don’t like having my flash fiction mixed in with my personal anecdotes, etc. I won’t bother you with the details. Let’s just say I’m going to take my socks out of the silverware drawer. Our Lady will be glad.

That's just wrong.

That’s just wrong.

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What Would June Do?

June would never loll about like this.

June would never loll about like this.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am not June Cleaver. June was always busy with her housewife-ly duties. Never once did the camera catch her, still in her nightgown, reading a trashy novel in the middle of the morning. Nope. She was always dressed from pearls down to pumps, along with a cute little apron, serving up that nourishing breakfast for Ward and the boys. Or vacuuming. She did a lot of vacuuming. Maybe the sponsor for “Leave it to Beaver” was Electrolux. If not, they missed a good opportunity.

I wonder if June had a chore chart to make sure she got it all done. It must have been better than any of mine. I’ve tried all kinds of plans–Do everything one day a week; Do a little each day; Do nothing and catch up just before company arrives.

From what June showed us of her personality, she liked housekeeping. Why else would she get dressed up for it? And maybe that’s my problem. I don’t much like it. Don’t get me wrong. I love a clean and orderly house. I just don’t like what you have to do to get one.

And there always seems to be something I’d rather do. Like gardening or reading or going somewhere with a friend. I never saw June doing any of that. Oh, once in awhile she would sit on the couch in the evening and share the newspaper with Ward. Big deal.

Like, right now, I should be doing something other than writing. I should be asking myself, “WWJD” What would June do? I can hear Dust and Grime settling in around me, making remarks like, “You only have yourself to blame if it’s twice as hard to clean us up when you finally get around to it.”

But I keep on writing. I don’t own any high heels, and my pearls need to be restrung.

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Rainy Day Rules

When I sat down to write, it was raining, and I was tempted to invoke Rainy Day Rules. According to those rules, real life is suspended, and I can do whatever I want, i.e. read, nap, watch reruns, order from QVC, eat sweet and salty treats.

Rainy Day Rules? Yes, it’s a real thing. Sorry if you didn’t know. And maybe its a real thing for me because I’m retired. To be specific, I used to go to work, and now I just work. That seems as close to retired as a woman ever gets.

Unfortunately, my dirty laundry would not yield to the RDR. My husband, Q, told me he had no clean jeans. He is not retired, so he needed pants. I do not need pants. More evidence that I am retired.

I ate these and many other things while watching Netflix.

I ate these and many other things while watching Netflix.

Just so you know, I do not go around pants-less. When clean laundry is at a minimum, I wear pj’s. A perk of being retired. Although, I have seen young people in Walmart and at the Mini-Merc in pj’s, and I doubt they are retired. Perhaps they are living by rules I don’t know. I will not judge.

The Rainy Day Rules give me a legitimate excuse to be lazy, to loll about, to fall off the wagon of git ’er done. Sometimes, they give me some space to just slow down and ponder–to relax and let my mind and body rest.

I guess it’s just a good thing I don’t live in Seattle.


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In the Looking Glass

I looked in the mirror the other day, and my mother looked back. As I have gotten older, I have begun to take after my mother more and more. As a child, I favored my dad. Or, at least, I thought I did. I had his brown eyes-not my mother’s blue ones. But as I’ve entered into what some would call my senior years, I remind myself of my mother as she looked in her later years. Something about my mouth, my gaze.

I always thought my mother was a pretty lady. And so you’d think that looking like her would be good news. It is. I guess. I should be happy about it. It makes sense. I look like my mother.

But I’m just vain enough that I don’t want to look like my mother. I want to look like me. What does that even mean? I don’t know. I guess it means that I thought I was unique. And looking so much like my mother erodes that notion.

I look at pictures of me in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, and I see no resemblance. I am just me. But now, in my 60’s, the DNA that mom passed along is showing up on my face. I know that looking like my mother doesn’t preclude me from being unique. It doesn’t cancel out my me-ness. And, anyway, I know that who and what I am is partly-largely-because of the mother I had. So maybe she should be allowed a curtain call by showing up on my face.

I guess I’m just a little surprised that even though I feel so thoroughly me, if I were to meet me on the street, I just might mistake me for my mother.

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Almost Famous

I’m making a guest appearance today on http://lifeintheboomerlane.com/2015/02/06/lounging-at-the-bottom-of-the-learning-curve-a-guest-post-by-paula-j-wray Please visit me there.

I feel almost famous.

Renee, or LBL as she calls herself, writes some pretty funny stuff. Plus she’s a former hula hoop champion.  Check her out.

Paula J

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One Christmas Eve

I was six years old the Christmas I first started questioning the reality of Santa Claus. When I spied him on the downtown street corner or sat in his lap at the department store, I began to detect differences in his appearance. Sometimes his beard was snowy white, sometimes not. Sometimes it was longer, sometimes shorter. He might be wearing glasses or he might not. I reasoned that, possibly, the real Santa had helpers, who were assistant Santas, since he could not be everywhere at the same time. Christmas time was his busiest time of the year, so of course, he needed help. I was willing to give him that.

But there were those thorny issues regarding traveling round the world in one evening, entering houses that had no chimney, and fitting all those gifts into just one sleigh. I was on the verge of giving up my belief in Santa Claus.

Christmas Eve rolled around, and my family went to the Christmas program at our church. Even my dad went, which was pretty remarkable, as he always left the church-going to my mom. But this time, we all went together–Mom, Dad, my sister, and me.

We entered the small church and found our seats. The room was dark with lights pointed at the stage. The folks who usually directed the song service, collected the offering, or taught Sunday School had become shepherds and wise men and angels. Sure, they were wearing bathrobes and sheets, and a lot of the celestial glitter was due to aluminum foil, but the music of carols, and the story of Jesus being born in a stable, in order to come live with us, transformed it all into reality. The utter truth of the story overwhelmed the stuff of the telling. The tale of the baby who came to love us caught and held me.

When we got home that evening, and I walked into the darkened living room, there, under the sparkling tree, where earlier there had been nothing, were toys-a panda bear, a double-gun and holster set, a rocking horse.

I had been on the brink of aligning myself with the evidence against Santa. I had begun to suspect that Mom and Dad were the ones who answered my Christmas wishes. That was the explanation which fit the logic of things possible that was beginning to demand my allegiance. But Mom and Dad had both been at the Christmas program.

My doubts whispered, one more time, that it could all be cleared up with an ordinary explanation. I didn’t ask for one, because Christmas should never be ordinary.

Merry Christmas from Paula J


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Presto Change-o

imageI’ve heard that if you want a change, you’ve got to make a change. That makes sense.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need for something different. What I’d really like, would be two weeks somewhere without having to think about any of the stuff I usually think about. None of the everyday stuff, anyway.

My fantasy is a small town with a coffee shop on the square, a Mom and Pop diner, a library, and nice weather. I’d like to be able to bicycle to all the aforementioned places, and it would be a nifty bonus if the town had some bicycle paths for a chance to rack up some more miles. Nothing uphill. This is a fantasy, after all.

I could probably do all of that right here at home, but I guess I’m just itching for a change of scene.

This part of my life, this blog, is facing a change, but I’ll let you know more about that later.

Please keep showing up and reading. I don’t want that to change. I’ll keep showing up, too. That won’t change either.


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Midnight Special

I woke up this morning thinking, which is never a good idea. It means I have to grab my iPad and jot down my thoughts before they escape. This uses up that grey-light time of early morning which could be more pleasurably spent in dozing, waking temporarily, only to doze again.

I say dozing would be more pleasurable and it would. In a way. A passive way. Writing is a more active pleasure. I fear I have allowed myself too many passive pleasures. I may be lazy.

My friends and I once had a long discussion about the idea of a Grand Passion–that soul condition that rules great artists, musicians, statesmen, inventors, and explorers. All those creative types. We tried to wrap our minds around the changes that would take place in our regular, everyday lives if we became infected with a Grand Passion. We wondered, could a normal person with a normal life even have a Grand Passion, or would the GP prohibit normalcy?

Frankly, it sounds exhausting to me. I suspect the Grand Passion could be a hard task master, and she would probably frown upon the amount of time I spend just sitting and staring. Being wagged about by an unquenchable thirst to create could wear on one’s nerves.

I prefer to loll about, living out my aptitude test results of “beachcomber”, picking up and discarding a variety of interests as I meander through my days. Grand Passion sounds like it takes too much focus, and focus sounds exhausting.

But perhaps, the GP doesn’t let you choose. Perhaps, she steps off the Pullman car of the Midnight Special, tells you to pick up her luggage, and with a flick of her hand, commands you to follow as she strides forward, giving you no opportunity to assert yourself against her demands.

Maybe that’s who woke me up. Just my luck. She’s a morning person.

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I began my day today by writing a rather lengthy e-mail to a personal friend. I hadn’t planned on starting that way, but thoughts of her kept gurgling up, so I followed my gurgling and wrote to her. Even before I got dressed.

This delayed the start of what I consider my real day. The part where I “get it all done.”

Most of my days start with a list. I like making lists, but I don’t always do them. Seldom in their entirety. But as I began mentally ticking off my chores for the day, even before I put them on paper, I felt or maybe even heard a slight gasp. I’m not sure. I don’t think I physically gasped. But, it made me pause. You can understand how it would.

I decided, not to make a list today. I think it would just be cruel. To the Gasper, to the Gaspee, and to me, whichever one I am.

I’ll just do what I do as it presents itself, and only if it presents itself calmly and politely.

Let the day begin, and may it be real, whether I get it all done or not.

Paula J

Remember, no matter how hard you try, sometimes it just comes out sounding like “Cheese Doodles”.

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