During my childhood, my mom grew roses. They were everywhere. She was particularly proud of her Silver Jubilee lavender-colored roses.
Fast-forward to adulthood: When I moved into my home, there was one sickly rose bush in the yard next to the garage door. It was covered in white paint from when careless painters sprayed they garage. I’ve tried to nurse it back to health, but I don’t think I will be successful.
In the meantime, I planted poppies, nasturtiums, lavender and rosemary in early spring. They all took hold, but the poppies have a short life span and have played out. I replaced them with sunflowers — both mammoth and miniature– as well as more lavender, borage, lantana, yarrow, delphinia, lots and lots of sweet allysum and more nasturtiums in different colors. My yard is an experiment this year to see what will thrive and what won’t.
Maybe someday I will plant roses again.
I actually wrote this bit of flash fiction last week, but it seems to fit today’s RagTag prompt. Here is a short-short story (544 words) about a sad little girl ghost. Also, I did want to show that I actually do write fiction from time-to-time. 🙂
The Girl with the Light Brown Hair
I shoved the front door shut with my foot and lugged my shopping bags into the kitchen. Another day in lock down. Is it day 62 or 63? They are all starting to blur together. As I started to unload my bags, I heard the sound of my television in the bedroom. I knew I had turned it off before I left for the store, so this could only mean one thing. I sighed, finished putting a quart of milk in the refrigerator and headed towards my bedroom.
As I approached the door, I slowed and carefully peeked in. She was there.
A little girl, about five or six, I reckoned, sat on the edge of my bed. She had light brown hair and was dressed in a summery blue tee-shirt and flower print shorts. Her pale legs dangled over the edge of the bed, and she was engaged with rapt attention to Dora and her friends on the screen.
Not everyone has ghosts, but this house does, so I was not surprised at all.
Not wanting to scare her, I softly said. “Well hey there.”
She jumped nevertheless and started to slide off the bed.
“No, no. You can stay. It’s okay.” I stepped into the room.
She relaxed and settled back down. Her large, doleful brown eyes looked up at me. I felt something crack in my chest.
“I haven’t seen you for a long time. How are you?”
She did not reply. She rarely spoke and has never told me her name. I glanced at the tv. “Do you like that show?”
“Yeah. It’s funny.”
“Can I sit and watch with you?”
She did not reply but moved over to make room for me.
“I’ve missed you,” I said as I sat down. She continued to watch the screen.
“Where have you been for so long?” I asked.
“I’ve been here. You just don’t notice me.”
“Well, yeah, about that… I’m sorry. I just got really busy… That was wrong of me.”
That television snapped off on its own
“I miss you too. It’s scary being here all by myself.”
“I should be here for you. I’m so sorry. I know it’s really scary. And I know that you are really lonely.”
“They go away and leave me alone too. And when they come back they yell at me. I’m sorry– I don’t mean to make them mad.”
I was stunned. She had never spoken this much before.
“I don’t think they love me.” She sniffed.
“Of course they do.”
I did not know who “they” were but I could guess. “They just didn’t know how to talk to you right.”
She lowered her head.
“They should not have yelled at you. And I should be here to tell them to stop. In fact, I’m gonna tell you this: They don’t get to yell at you anymore. If you see them coming, you come and get me.”
“And you’ll come?”
“Yes. I promise.”
Her little ghostly body leaned in to mine and I could see a faint smile on her face.
I wrapped my arm around her. I guess I’m a parent now, I thought, and my own eyes filled with tears.
LJGloyd (c) 2020
Another daily practice I have commenced during this time to keep me grounded is to, among other things, read a poem a day. This morning I randomly selected Mary Oliver reading her well-known poem Wild Geese. It made me tear up. I empathized with everyone in this world to whom this poem resonates.
A couple of years ago, I took a photograph of a beach sunset. The photo was lovely but it did not catch the luminosity and vibrancy that I witnessed that evening. I finished this painting last night– actually a triptych of panels since I did not have an appropriate sized canvas– that teased out the truth of my experience of that evening.
Since I am locked up at home most days with nowhere to really go, I break up the monotony by walking around my neighborhood. Recently I came across a newcomer: the yellow chicken car. I don’t know who it belongs to, and I don’t know how long it will be here, and I am utterly intrigued by the mind that would take an Oldsmobile from the 1960s, paint it brilliant yellow, and put a giant fiberglass chicken head on the top and tail feathers on the back. That is a genius I would like to know. My guess is that the driver is a nomad and will vanish with this creation as mysteriously as he or she arrived.
It is Day 54 of the quarantine and you would think that with all this time on my hands that I would be a little more productive in my creative output. That has not been the case. I was discussing this creative block with someone yesterday who challenged me to do just one tiny little creative thing each day and see where that leads. So I decided to get back into doing morning pages in order to wake up, regain my composure as a Creative and to take advantage of the opportunity this quarantine offers. I certainly don’t plan to post my pages here every day— just this first one to kickstart my process and maybe yours too.
So, it is May 6, 2020, Day 54 of the Quarantine, about 4:45 in the morning. This is my attempt to get back into doing “morning pages,” three pages of journaling done immediately upon waking.
The traditional way of doing morning pages is to handwrite them. I’m dictating this into my cell phone because It is too much effort to find a pen and paper and to sit up to write. I want to tell myself that THAT is the reason I am not writing or doing any sort of creating— that i am just too lazy. But that’s not it. That’s too easy.
Last night I was going over some resources I have about journaling and I came across this passage in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down Them Bones: “You must be a great warrior when you contact first thoughts and write from them.” That is, there is a certain amount of bravery necessary to journal, and I suppose by extension to do anything creative, because you must reach deep down inside yourself and pull things up that haven’t seen the light of day. Those things are unpleasant and they fight and scratch and kick and do everything possible not to be drug out of their dark holes. This is scary.
I can’t think of anything more to say right now except that I notice I’m pretty judgemental. My first thought is that I’m lazy, NowI think it’s because I’m a coward.
This is too much to deal with so early in the morning without coffee, so I think I’ll just get up and go pee now.
Last year I bought myself a decent camera because I had this idea that I would be able to get back into photography. That did not come to pass because one thing after another came up to get in the way.
The shelter-in-place mandate by my county has been extended to the middle of May and my workplace will not allow us back until the end of May. So I have plenty of time on my hands. Instead of just standing by and waiting for the all-clear, I thought I would put my camera to use.
Since I cannot go anywhere, I will need to be satisfied with what I can shoot around my home and in my neighborhood. This morning I figured out how do use my long range lens. I sat on my patio for a while waiting for the hummingbirds to feed on my nasturtiums as well as house finches and Black Phoebes to splash in the birdbath. However, a murder of crows roosting in a Jacaranda tree on the property next door was creating havoc by terrorizing the mourning doves, cavorting mid-air with each other and hollering back-and-forth at full-volume. They managed to scare off all small birds in neighborhood, so all I managed were some shots of my flowers and bees. It’s gonna take a while to get that proverbial money shot.
That’s OK. It seems like I’m in this for the long-haul.
It is day 17 of my new normal. Fortunately, I have work to do at home during the week, but the evenings and weekends are a little long. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, gardening, and wasting way too much time on YouTube. However, I did find a video of Jamie Oliver making the easiest soda bread ever made. So this morning for something to do I made it, and I am fairly pleased with the result. ( A link to the video is below). I call it “soup can soda bread” because you use an empty soup can as the measuring cup for the flour and liquid.
Mix together a soup can of all purpose flour, a can of whole wheat flour, and a can of milk. Buttermilk is better, but I didn’t have it. Instead I mixed some milk with some yogurt. Add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of honey, and 2 teaspoons of baking soda. I added a few sprinkles of rolled oats for some texture.
When the dough is mixed, plop it out onto a floured board and just give it a few kneads to shape it into a ball. Sprinkle the bottom of the baking pan with a little flour, put the loaf into it, sprinkle more oats on top, and score an X into it.
Put the pan into a preheated 400 F (200 C) degree oven. The recipe calls for it to bake for 20 minutes, but mine was a little underdone in the center. So the next time I do this, I will bake it for 25 minutes, and then test the center with a knife. Every oven is a little bit different. Other than that, I am very pleased with the result:
The whole process took about 35 minutes, including clean up.
So that’s what I’ve done so far this morning. What are all of you doing to get through your lockdown or social isolation? Stay well, everyone.
Like hundreds of millions of people all over the world, I am trying to practice some social distancing during the pandemic. In order to “isolate” for several weeks, I ventured out to do some shopping for essentials to have on hand. At 6 o-my-sweet-Moses-in-the-morning in the darkness and in a pouring rainstorm, I went to one of the local warehouse stores hoping to avoid a crowd and possible exposure to the virus. That idea didn’t work too well. When I arrived there were already about 50 or 60 people waiting to get into the store along with me. I knew the crowds would only get worse so I took the plunge and got in line.
Seriously, I wasn’t there to hoard. I simply wanted to get some pantry staples. For example, I thought I would get a few rolls of paper towels. However, all the store had were huge packs of 24 rolls. I don’t need that many rolls of paper towels and to have purchased them would have been hoarding. So I left them for somebody else. I’ll use old fashioned fabric towels and wash them. It’s better for the environment anyway.
A lot of shelves were empty, but in spite of what I have seen on the news — people fighting over toilet paper and other insane behaviors– everyone I engaged was polite and in some cases even jovial in the attempt to take the edge off the tension. I quickly worked through my list: a few canned items, hand sanitizer, cartons of shelf-safe nut milk, oatmeal, and chocolate. (I can’t face a global crisis without chocolate). Then I checked out and high-tailed it home.
I had originally planned to fill my day with garden work, but since the rain has made that impossible, I had to find something else to occupy the day. I’ve made an inventory of my pantry (I’m good on food and toiletries for several weeks), I fooled around on social media, and now I am writing. This evening I plan to read. I cannot– CANNOT– watch one more minute of the news. It is not that the news about the pandemic frightens me. More to the point, it unsettles me. I am anxious. Not so much about my getting sick, but about things like what this is doing to the stock market, and the global economy, how does this affect my doing my job next week, and how do I keep myself sane when I am spending so much time alone. By the way, Alexa is not very good at holding sustained conversations.
Yesterday, a friend of mine had a digital copy sent to me of a well-known book on Zen meditation. So tomorrow, Sunday, since my diocese has cancelled worship services, I may sit and try to meditate instead. I have the next few weeks to worry about the state of things. Tomorrow, though, I will take a few minutes and try to find some calm in this storm.
Stay well everyone.
ljg (c) 2020