Monthly Archives: June 2012


“Seriously,” she questions herself, trying to stretch out of them as if they were merely non-existent remnants from a bleary-eyed dream; the kind of pre-waking delusion that has you in the middle of a critical interview in which you cannot convince your future boss that there is something in your eye, and that this is the reason you can barely see and keep bumping into things, “is this how the day is going to start?”

Sitting straight up, accidentally flinging kittens; of which she has six orange, black, and gray ones, in all directions with an accompanying cacophony of mewling objections, she cranes her neck to the left as far as it will go. “Damn,” she says, lingering on the vowel a bit too long, “this is one hell of a fantasy.”

Finally she rises, kittens still complaining about being unduly disturbed, and trudges, bleary-eyed, to the mirror. “Holy mother of Zeus,” she exclaims, “looks like I’ve finally earned my wings!”

This is part of Lillie McFerrin’s weekly Five Sentence Fiction. This week’s prompt: faeries


Besides urgency, she feels
Eager, not anxious like she
Should when trying to please
Him, Great White Cloud

Confidence building inside her
Moist arms carrying, heart
Heaving and hefting, carefully
Pushing the gift in place

No thanks to come after
She stands beside a deluge
Worthy of singing, of dancing,
Wide eyes appraising now

Almost gloating like she
Did before the reminding
Torrent with its heavy-handed
Washing, its effortless erasing

This poem is in response to Randall David Tipton’s beautiful painting, coupled with the amazing poetry of Maureen Doallas, author of Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems. You may see both here


I am usually on a jam-packed freeway when I have the same thought I have when I am on a jam-packed airplane thirty-plus thousand feet in the air: I am tiny; therefore my problems are minuscule. These are great moments when suddenly the entire world, including the one that lives inside my head, shifts into perfect focus. Despite the drug-like high of this aha-moment, something disturbing niggles at me; taunts me like a fourth grade con-man trading a kindergartner a nickel for a dime–having convinced the youngster that bigger is better. I figure it out fairly quickly as I am taking the exit home: enlightenment is not a panacea; nor is it a miracle-drug, even when it feels like one–despite its miraculous size and feel.

Understanding how life works, that there is no resisting it, does not make it any easier to cope with the “part and parcel” atrocities. Just because I know that death is a natural part of life does not mean that I will not bawl uncontrollably, curse uncharacteristically, mask, hide, deny, fall apart…mourn forever. I will never be ready to lose someone I love. Period. There are no zen moments to cover the kind of grieving that arrives with those horrific curveballs thrown at light speed miles per hour–the ones that threaten to pin us to the ground forever. And this is what, right after the enlightened high has worn off and the right indicator light is still clicking, I am left with: the other shoe. When will it drop? Will I be ready? How can I prepare?

This is when I pray; not because I am religious, but because I know of no other way–other than driving into a ravine–to assuage any current or future grief. Praying feels good. It helps me. I like to think that my prayers have an energy that is attracted to other energy, that is attracted to…and so on and so forth, and that good things happen as the result of them. This might be enough to get me through, except for this awful enlightenment thing that feels a bit like intuition–or in darker moments, premonition. Tough times happen to everyone, and though humankind has come up with a plethora of mind-numbing substances to ease the pain, no one has transcended them.

I do not believe that those who have unshakable faith in an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and omnibenevolent god get to escape my freeway epiphany either. Having supernatural faith may bring a certain kind of peace; the kind that comes from knowing that there is a greater power around to help when life gets incomprehensibly difficult, the kind that brings the blessed assurance that the God in Heaven above will explain everything; but even the most upstanding Christians I know are still suffering, despite the fact that Jesus was sacrificed–despite having Biblical answers to difficult questions.

I am nearly home when the dam breaks; warm tears of gratitude creating black rivers down my cheeks. Pulling over might be a good idea, but I don’t. Pulling myself together instead, I renew my commitment to live and let live; to do the best I can with the time I have been given, to enjoy the amazing people God or science has put into my life, to give more than I take, to develop the gifts I can manage to unwrap, to smile and laugh more, to eradicate guilt, and to keep worry in a teensy tiny box; reserving it only for those times when it spurs me into positive action.

The prayer I say before reaching my driveway winds up being something like this: Please forgive me for not understanding you, for praying as if I am a believer, when sometimes I am not. All I ask is that you will give me the grace, the love, and the strength I need to navigate whatever comes my way. Amen.

It’s what I’ve taken to praying for those who are experiencing tough times: Grace, love and strength for the journey. And then I pray that there is a Great Someone Somewhere to give it to them.

If you click here, you can hear me singing a very rough version of one of my favorite songs (1953) about faith, dedicated to my friend, Sandra: 20120616 165447

This is the mp3 version, for those who cannot open the link above: 6_16_12 4_54 PM


The worst part is when he cocks his head so that their eyes meet and he wonders, even before she answers him, if he has already asked. For a moment, an illusory burst of hope seizing her naive heart, she thinks that maybe it is reversible; maybe he is going to snap out of it.

Then she snaps out of it instead, just in time to hear him ask, for the eleventh time, “So, are you teaching the kids German?”

“Yes, Dad, as much as possible,” she says.

“Well good,” he nods approvingly, “good.”

And though she feels it acutely, like a dagger permanently lodged in her soul, he does not; he has no recollection of what he has lost.

“Francesca” is a response to Lillie McFerrin’s “Five-Sentence Fiction,” and this week’s word, “lost.” Visit her site by clicking on the icon above, where you can enter your own five-sentences and read the clever, moving, creative submissions of other writers.


A wave of deflation

A burgeoning California morning. An abundance; fields actually, of colorful blooms. A camera. Thus began a promising day.

The homeschool field trip to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad left me with time, while my children were attending a workshop, to take in and attempt to capture–in my psyche and in my camera–the intoxicating beauty surrounding me.

Click, click. Smile. Click. Smile. Click, click, click. Smile.

Arriving home, exhausted but happy, I could hardly wait to view my shots. I loaded them up, hit “Import,” and waited. It would be a while. There were hundreds. I pulled up the internet to check out the photos of an award-winning photographer I had met that day, Donna Pegakis.


I was tired. Too tired. Way too tired to view amazing photos expertly massaged into fine art; photos worthy of the awards they had received.

I clicked over to my photos, now loaded, to see if any were keepers. I didn’t get very far before a wave of creative deflation hit me. What had I been thinking? Me, a potential professional photographer down the road? Who was I kidding? Her shots were amazing. Mine paled in comparison, despite the brilliance of the flowers. I took a nap.

Weeks passed. I received an e-mail from Donna with her newly updated site, and I ignored it.

This. Is. Not. Like. Me. At all. In case you don’t understand. I am not a jealous person. I used to be, but when I decided that being insecure was NOT an option, I eradicated jealousy–seriously (it took many years). I am the kind of person who will compliment a drop-dead gorgeous woman on her calves, her stunning low-cut blouse, or her form-fitting capris. So this fresh round of envy, in response to Donna’s amazing work, depressed me. Still, I ignored it, until I finally decided to look at my shots; not to see if I could out-do my new friend, but to see if any of my shutter clicks matched my vision for them. Lo and behold, since I wasn’t comparing my work with Donna’s; wasn’t letting the atrociously ugly green monster control my thoughts about my aspirations, I found some I loved.

Today I will contact Donna and share this post with her. I will apologize for not responding. I will tell her how her work has inspired me to keep my own creative vision alive–versus comparing it to someone else’s and deciding to quit, or to settle for less than my progressive best.

As for those demons I thought I had wrestled into oblivion? I’ve realized that they are always waiting to rear their formidable heads–especially when I forget to remind myself that my dreams cannot be touched by someone else’s accomplishments. In fact, if I am smart, I will let other people’s genius inspire me to new heights.


The middle, the center, the heart: where all things come into sharp focus; where all truths lie, even the unfathomably painful ones.

A family I love is dealing with heartbreaking truth, and I am struggling with what to offer up, besides the sadness I keep in check.

So if I may ask a little something of you?

If you feel so inclined, will you please leave your words of love and support for Sandra and her family- I know that so many of us have dealt with unearthly pain and loss–and may just have something that will add light to a situation with some of the darkest clouds I’ve seen in a while.

From my heart–from the center of me…thank you.


My friend Jayne Martin turned me on to “Five Sentence Fiction,” which is the brain child of Lillie McFerrin

This week’s prompt: orange

Peter was a handsome neurotic who organized his socks and his freezer using the same alphabetical system. It wasn’t the long, dark hair I found in his bed that did it. I could almost forgive him for giving in to his ex-girlfriend now and again, especially since we weren’t actually “sleeping” together. But I had to draw the line when his obsessions got the better of him, and my patience. He wouldn’t leave the house until he had found a word to rhyme with “orange.”