Constancy

I count on a stretch of time at the beach just to sit and listen.   Depending on her mood, the ocean soothes in quiet laps.  It spits and snarls out the last of storms far beyond the horizon I see from my little perch.   It teases small children determined to make the waves in the shallows bow to their dominance.  It buoys surfers ranging from wobbly beginners to lithe, confident riders who swing up, cruise in.

Quiet or loud, placid or tempermental, the ocean is constant in its reach and withdrawal.

I count on a stretch of time at the beach to just sit and watch. The sky fascinates morning to night (even as I avoid the midday). Dawn is a rowdy orange and vibrant pink that give any sunset a run for the money.  Dawn is gray and lavender stealing the dark from the sky.  Dawn is water that reflects steel then silver that gives way to blue under the relentless rise of the sun every day. 

Evening offers a soothing stretch of quiet that waits for the moon rise and the stars to blink on.  The mind lets go of the day as the lungs breathe in the salt air in rhythm with the surf. And when the stars blink into focus, you recognize how small we are.

I begin each day in the dark before dawn, I end in the dark after sunset. Constant, unceasing watch over ocean and sky, to fill the soul before heading back in to start or end the day.

When I’m not here, the surf still dances on the sand.  The sun still rises, the moon still glides in waxing and waning grace.

My job is to dip into the overflowing soul and remember the constancy of the surf, the sun and the moon.  And breath in and out in unison.

Post 2.

Mileposts Revived

Routine

A while back, for 100 weeks, I wrote a Thursday post I titled Mileposts in the Distance.  One hundred little slices of a life featuring crossroads, empty nests, half-marathons, family, dying swans and stashes of makeup.  Why did I stop? At the time I’d convinced myself there was little left to say without repeating myself.

A good joke that, from a person who retells stories at the drop of the hat.

The itch to create strengthened over the past year.  But in order to create, you must show up on a routine basis.  

I’ve blown back the cobwebs, resuscitated Mileposts (at least on Thursdays) and taken back this space. No plans other than to show up here on a very regular basis and talk about what’s on my mind.

In small bits of narrative.  

Post 1.

1 photo, 3 sentences: May 21, 2016

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The best days start with an empty palette, a clean face.  You take a soft brush in a steady hand then add sweeps of color to enhance, define, embrace.   And on the best days, the results make the day, the face, show reflect the best side of the person.

1 photo, 3 sentences — May 17, 2016

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The sun is a reclusive diva this May.  It hides behind lowered, gloomy, dour clouds until it decides to blaze through the gray in the waning moments of day and tease the eyes with gorgeous light.  It takes that promise below the horizon only to reconsider through the night and shroud itself at the next dawn.

1/12th of the way

January flew by in a haze of travel, sinus pain and snow.  Our first blizzard in decades kept me in place much longer than I really like to stay still.  But when your head whirls after movement, or even just conversation, staying put became order number one.

I envisioned taking root in our new home and nearly new city this year.  In fact Root(ed) is my word and work in 2016.  But thirty one days in, I know I didn’t put 2015 completely to rest the way you would put a garden for winter.   I refused to sweep away the loose thoughts, old distractions and emotions that no longer suit and so there’s a tangled mess above the surface.  I can only hope there’s some Secret Garden work going on that will stun as the growing season approaches.

Looking at the bounty of snow covered photos I took in the last week, I keep returning to the view outside my office window of the dormers across the way.

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When the storm set in you could barely tell the sky from the roof line.  Pretty much the way I allowed the old year to blur into the new.

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As the storm cleared, the colors turned brilliant.  The delicious possibilities under that achingly blue sky tempted me to ignore the blurred tangle underfoot and grab onto something new.  A something, I’ve learned from experience, that would ultimately land in an unclear space and add to the tangle.

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The view today as the work of uncovering what’s underneath continues drip by drip by drip.  I’m sure I know what lies in that tangle of emotions but until I allow things to move — to drip away — I won’t be certain.

So this 31st day of the year will be one of clearing.  I have blank pages to fill with thoughts.  No order, just grabbing that first exposed emotional branch and seeing how easily it slips free.  No judgment, no finding fault, just opening up space in order to see what takes root.

11/9 Walking and Words: Wet

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A rainy morning for a walk in Frederick.  A bit of a rough go for a repaired knee, but out the door I went on what’s become a preferred route of sorts: down an alley to the creek then winding my way to the park and the looping around back to home.

I’m not sure when the route will become habit.  Old brick sidewalks don’t lend themselves to an unconscious walk — I have to constantly look down to make certain of sure footing. The practice of these daily walks has an integral element of being absolutely present — despite nattering body parts.  Because if I’m not fully aware of where I’m going and where the next step goes, I’m likely to step in a way that send pain up the right leg.

I spend so much time looking down I can feel my shoulders closing in over my heart head lowered to look at what’s at my feet.  When I look at my photos, so many of them remind me to look up.

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Adding to this week’s practice is finding a balance between the all the way up and the all the way down to find that middle.

11/9 Walking and Words: one is easier than the other

Week one of this little experiment of movement and creation is on the books.  I get up and out at meet my 9 am goal for a walk, then I find that the rest of the day falls into place.  Well, full disclosure: after an extremely busy Friday and Saturday (16,000+ steps each day), I decided two short walks would be the extent of Sunday’s movement, totals be damned.  (It was a respectable 7500.)

My mind isn’t responding to the command to write nearly as well.  I’ve dutifully sat down, pecked out words and let the story figure itself out.  Right now, I’m not giving over to the showing up, I seem to want to direct and control exactly where the words will take me.  Should the words be funny?  Wise?  A slice of life?  A philosophical slant to something that happened on the walk?

For week two, the goal is to show up and begin.  And will see where I end up.

Photos, though, are not a problem.  Today was the first truly cold morning with frost on the park grasses and mists on the water.  And then there was the reflection of early light that set this photo on fire.wpid-wp-1447107526920.jpeg

A fine start to the week.

11/6 Walking and Words: #madeuphistory

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I’ve passed this several times and wondered. Instead of investigating I made up a story.

Mr. Jacoby Loats considered the house on the corner of Church Street and Maxwell Alley to be the crowning achievement of his young career building homes. Nearing completion of the project, he approached the owner Mrs. Esther Humblebolt and asked that he might stamp his name on a small patch near the front corner of the house so people would know whose services they could inquire about their own future homes.

“My dear Mr. Loats,” said Mrs. Humblebolt, “what a vulgar idea! I most certainly forbid any sort of sign that would advertise a company’s service, even one as fine as yours, on the front of my house for all to see!

“I’d planned to write a most favorable letter of recommendation to your mother, but I may have to reconsider in the face of such an outlandish, forward idea.”

Mr. Loats begged her pardon but argued that he meant for it to be a simple thing, that etching. For who knew where he might go as a builder and to have the Loats name on her home could be of very great honor in the future.

“Young man, this is outrageous!” exclaimed Mrs. Humblebolt.  “This is 1877 and while I know young people such as yourself have ideas that I find incomprehensible in their forwardness, respectable people do not put names not of their own family on the front of their houses. Now I must bid you Good Day!”

Mr. Loats left the house and met his junior associate waiting eagerly to hear of the decision. 

When the news was shared, both men were cast down for such was their excitement to add the etched name to the home.

As they walked done the Alley on the way to the office, Mr. Loats’ junior man, Earnest, looked at the wall with careful thought.

“Did she say anything about etching on a wall on an alley?” he asked.

Mr. Loats considered for a moment and smiled. “Why no Earnest, Mrs. Humblebolt did not.”

It was nearly 3 years before Mrs. Humblebolt noticed the etching as she routinely avoided the impropriety of walking down alleys. By that time Mr. Loats was the talk of Frederick and having his name etched on the wall of a home was of very great consequence.

Mrs. Esther Humblebolt was quick to point out that while his name on a home was fine, having it on a wall along a busy throughfare showed an elevated mind to business and she greatly approved.

11/5 Walking and words: Gray

While today ended up summery and gorgeous, it started out like the best kind of November day: gray with a bit of a chill.  With a list of about 694 Things To Do do between now and Sunday, I went out for a fast walk.   It was a Left Brain approved walk: 3 miles at a 16+ minute pace.

And the Right Brain was very pleased by this picture (“isn’t that blue amazing?” she gushed):

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The triumph was that I put the shoes on and went out the door instead of letting Item 431 get in the way.  The second triumph is that I didn’t let a tricky Item 503 get in the way of sitting down to write this afternoon.

Because in my world later usually ends up three months from now when the List of Things to Do has approached 1000 and I realize I never went out the door.  But out the door I went and for now that’s enough to count this day as a good one.

And the list was smaller by two Very Important Items: walking and words.

 

 

 

 

11/4 Walking and Words: Construction

No mental cacophony today, no philosophical lessons.  It’s all about the noise just outside.

For the second time in less than four years, we live with a construction zone just outside the door.  In Raleigh, the three empty lots next to us filled in one at a time over our last two years there.  Here in the new house construction on the last building big building in the community goes at full tilt to take advantage of the good weather.

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The calm before the crane arrived.

That’s a lot of time working to the soundtrack of generators, nail guns and beeping trucks coming and going.  Today, the roof trusses are going up so our street is closed and the cacophony is inescapable.

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Usually I can tune out the noise, but for some reason today it penetrates. Mainly because I’m so curious to see how things stand by the end of the day.  The new building will block the inescapable afternoon light we’ve had in the kitchen and second bedroom since we moved in. By the end of the day, when the generators are off and the reversal beeps stop, there will soon be a three story building 20 feet across the street and that will change the shape and shadows of the back of our home.

the old view
The view at 9:30 am
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The view at 3 pm

We knew it was coming, now we need to see how to live with changing light.

In order to escape the noise, for just a little while, I went for a walk in the bright morning sun.  This time I went north on Market Street — usually I’ve driven it, but by foot I noticed things differently like how gorgeous is the uptown firehouse.

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And the details you see on buildings when you just look up.

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Which I’ll have to do a lot of from the back deck from now on.