Monday, March 30, 2020

Monday memories

 On this day...
 2015 ~ a day trip to Ontonagon, Michigan Upper Peninsula
 2016 ~ I was 36 days away from getting my heart broken
 2017 ~ sunset view of Chequamegon Bay, Ashland, Wisconsin
2018 ~ day trip to Duluth, Minnesota
2019 ~ much more snow on the ground last year than this year

Thursday, March 26, 2020

ghosting ~ WoW

Words for Wednesday is a moveable feast of participants. Each month the prompts ~ words, pictures, themes, or even phrases are provided by someone new. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write. A story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. In March, the words have been provided by Mark Koopmans and posted on The Elephant's Child blog, who will also be providing the words in April.

     There is a ghostlike quality to cities around the world today.  Areas where normally one would find loud joyous gatherings are filled with silence and emptiness.  A holly wreath hangs crookedly on a house, melting snow has caused it to wilt and droop so that not even the birds returning from their winter migrations are interested in the berries.  Christmas lights, normally taken down by now, are being put back up to bring a little joy to those who are confined within.

     There have been no incidents of illness yet in my county, but this virus is still no joking matter.  Six dead as of this morning in my state, and we are told the worst is yet to come.  

     I'm in Walmart, oddly uncrowded, buying a few necessities while making sure I keep my distance from anyone who sounds ill.  I'm thirsty, my throat is dry and I want to cough, but stifle it worrying that I would be thrown out if I did.  I stand in front of several frozen food cases, wondering if I could eat a kilogram of ice cream in one sitting, then factor in what my lactate threshold would need to be in order to work it off.  I move my cart to the next aisle.  Empty.

     Later, I take a winter jacket for my husband at work.  He is still working at least.  The melting snow and warm daylight temperatures have fooled him into wearing a hoodie that provides him no warmth against the falling night temperatures as he works outside.  They have had some layoffs at his plant, and on my way home I stop to get bread at the Kwik Trip store which sells the only bread he likes to eat.  Feeling magnanimous I buy a dozen salted caramel cookies, telling myself I will share them with him and his remaining co-workers.  However, by the time he comes home for his dinner break, four of them have mysteriously gone missing.

     I occupy my time trying to thread small beads onto a nearly invisible strand of fishing line, using tweezers instead of needles.  A needle might have been faster, but more painful as my lack of depth perception is worse than I thought it was after my retinal tear more than 10 years ago.  It becomes a lesson in patience and persistence as the project takes me nearly four hours to complete.

     Standing outside to oversee my dog while he searches for elusive chipmunks and red squirrels, I see a robin land on the top of the outboard motor of my husband's fishing boat.  An indicator of spring almost as reliable as seeing a porcupine at the top of the birch trees.  I wonder if it will nest again in the woodshed or find another spot.

     I wake the next morning, my eyes itching as small particles of pollen, invisible to the naked eye irritate them.  Invisible, yet still capable of inflicting an annoying and amazing amount of discomfort.  I wait for a call from a possible temporary work-from-home job, ready to quiz the hiring coordinator with questions about the company.  I'm furloughed from my job right now, though I still have benefits and can claim unemployment, it is with a small amount of rancor I end the call after hearing that I qualified ... but ... there are no openings right now.


     What project can I start on next?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

wilting ~ WoW

Words for Wednesday is a moveable feast of participants. Each month the prompts ~ words, pictures, themes, or even phrases are provided by someone new. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write. A story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. In March, the words will be provided by Mark Koopmans and posted on The Elephant's Child blog.

     [rapid knocking on the door]
     [more rapid pounding on the door]
     "Lo siento, pero este baño está ocupado!"

     I instantly regretted taking this mini-vacation to Gibraltar, but after a long winter, I was deserving of at least a long weekend of sunlight.  For too many years, my business dogma had always been that work was a priority over everything else.  But lately, the search into my family tree and the recent pandemic had made me think twice about what was truly important.  Especially after a conversation with my siblings.

     [My younger and very spoiled sister] "Well, I hope you don't think we're going to come to Wisconsin to help you with this foolish project of yours.  Who cares what Uncle has done?!?"
     "I care.  For some reason, the thought of how many people he has harmed over the years has given me a particular drive to find him and hold him responsible for what he has done.  Not only to them but to our family name."
     [My one-year-younger brother] "Reggie, you act as if you have a tiny jockey on your back who is kicking you with his spurs.  Why such a sense of urgency with this nonsense?"
     "That was not quite the image I was hoping for, but I'll take it if it makes you understand why I want you to help me find him.  To be honest, it feels more like I have a wisteria vine strangling me, and I'm desperately trying to keep our family tree from wilting under the scandal that this might cause."
     [My very direct one-year-older brother] "You know, Regs, the last time I saw you, your color was very ashen.  I think you've been working too hard and need to take a vacation.  I've had my secretary schedule a flight for you that leaves tomorrow for Gibraltar.  I expect you to be on it.  Ever since this silly Brexit business, I've been trying to get down there to see how several of my investments have been doing.  I'll meet you there the day after tomorrow."

     Now, here I was trapped in a toilet with some maniac banging on the door.  I could hear him muttering as he paced just outside.  I'd had enough of this stress that was not helping the pressure currently occupying my bowels.  I was supposed to be relaxing in the sun.  I screamed loudly.


     Silence.  Then footsteps walking away.

     I smoothed my shirt and ran water over my face and hair so that I didn't look quite as strained as I had just been.  Stopping into the Gibraltar Distillery had been an unplanned detour, but when nature calls, you often don't have a choice of where you choose to answer.  Opening the door, I stepped out and was surprised to see a large crowd of women glaring at me with their arms crossed.  The elegance of their attire did not match the anger and disgust in their faces.

     A hand gripped my elbow firmly and pulled me out of the hallway and into the lobby of the distillery.

     "Disculpe, señor, pero ha estado ocupando el baño de mujeres durante casi una hora."

     I turned to look at the closed door behind me, and felt my face burn with embarrassment as I saw the sign that said "Mujer."  A voice behind me boomed loudly.

     "Regs!  There you are!  I've been looking everywhere for you.  I was afraid that with your flighty sense of obligation you might have missed the plane yesterday just to peeve me.  There's been quite the uproar here as some fool locked himself in the ladies' toilet and was simply being explosive in his bowel movements.  We've been hearing and smelling him for most of an hour now.  Positively repugnant!  I'd ask if you've been on the tour yet but have been informed that they are going to have to close the distillery for the rest of the day now to fumigate and sterilize the entire building.  Oh my, you are quite red in the face.  You should have used sunscreen, my dear brother.  It is not a flattering look on you."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

wheeling and dealing ... WoW

Words for Wednesday is a moveable feast of participants. Each month the prompts ~ words, pictures, themes, or even phrases are provided by someone new. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write. A story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. In March, the words will be provided by Mark Koopmans and posted on The Elephant's Child blog.

     We had once been what some would call a nuclear family, close-knit, tight.  Even our extended relations, such as my cousin the drug addict used to once be inseparable from us, and indistinguishable as to whether he was a sibling or a cousin.  It was a good childhood.  So I once thought anyway.  But sometimes family secrets were buried so deeply that it can take generations, even centuries, for them to rise to the surface.  Ours was such a family.

     Whispers between dancers of the foxtrot.  Hidden closets filled with klan white.  Some secrets would have made our great-great-great-great-greats rollover with disgust in their graves, but they were hardly innocent themselves.  Days, when our taken-for-granted utilities of indoor plumbing, hot running water, and electricity, were yet to be a thought in infant Edison's dreams for the future.  We were audacious enough to believe that we were above the law, even when there was no law.

     In the days when Greek oracles tossed zinc into temple fires to receive the answers they wanted from Zeus or Apollo, the lies they told the followers were manipulated by the choice of "dirt" they used.  Secrets, plastered on the walls of the shrines, paid for with coin, or blood, depending upon the size of the lie to be told.

     It had taken me years to firmly identify the players in my family tree, the identification of nameless faces, or worse yet, nameless stones in a graveyard marked only by initials carved in the bark of a nearby tree.  I came from a long line of manipulators, wheeling and dealing with their currency of choice.  Not to benefit others, but only themselves.  I was determined to break our family curse, and so it was my uncle I became fixated upon.  To hold him accountable for not only his lies and secrets but those hidden for all our generations.

     It was the least I could do to try and repair the damage my family has done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

with all your heart ~ a book review

Grieved and starved.

The first three words of Chapter One seized my attention.  Yes!  That is what I'm feeling!  Christine Hoover's words and emotions continued to reach out of the pages of her book with all your heart and convict my own.

I'm not a very good Christian.  Those words in Chapter Four caused me to inhale quickly.  She knew my fears, not just what I was feeling.  I read on, my highlighters coloring the pages as she wrote about relationships, marriage, and herself.

Chapters end with a series of questions that make me think hard, wanting to be honest with myself, wanting to learn and grow.

Isolation.  Chapter Nine.  Isolation was my fortress.  How did she know?  How could she know?

Christine's book will be one that I read, again and again, facing my fears, and beating down my demons.

Monday, March 9, 2020

questioning ... WoW

Words for Wednesday is a moveable feast of participants. Each month the prompts ~ words, pictures, themes, or even phrases are provided by someone new. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write. A story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. In March, the words will be provided by Mark Koopmans and posted on The Elephant's Child blog.

     The snow fell like granulated salt.  Tiny beads of it dotting the surface of everything.  If winter hadn't already made my sanity feel like it was on trial I would have stopped to be amazed at it, listening to the serenade of a bright red male cardinal wooing its mate.  But instead, my head felt like someone was playing billiards inside it, slamming the balls into each other and making me want to cuss with each step I took.

     I held the crumpled letter that had arrived from a lawyer just that morning in my hand. The feel of it made me angrier, my head pounding even harder.  "We wish to discuss your avuncular relationships."  Who even used such a word?  My uncles had all been gone for several years now, and there really wasn't any point in discussing our relationships.  I knew what the lawyer wanted anyway.  It was my cousin trying to vindicate his responsibility for the missing money from the trust fund.

     The man was a hotelier of one of the finest and most expensive hotels in the entire country.  With a waiting list of almost five years just for one night at his hotel, no one would think that he had a secret, but few knew that he was also a junkie who stole from his guests.

     I could feel my stress levels rising and closed the door to my office, setting the metronome I used to settle my breathing and heart rate to a slow and steady beat.  Eyes closed.  Breathe in. Count.  Breathe out. Count. In. Count. Out. Count.  In. Count.  Out.

     I opened my eyes at a quiet tapping on my door.  "Yes?"  The door opened a crack and I could see my secretary.

     "Sir, you wanted to be notified when the questionnaire was ready for review."
     "Yes, thank you.  Has it been uploaded to the Cloud?"
     "Yes sir, it has."

     As I read through the questionnaire, I made notes for my secretary to find ways to exemplify our intentions with the survey for our customers.  The last thing we needed was for them to think we were on a witch hunt, even though we were.