Wednesday Wonders: How I Came to Have a Mermaid

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Sissy and Quinton’s first girl. (Alternate pronunciation:  ‘The Gril.’)

 

 

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When Quinton first found The Girl she was in a pile of stuffed animals at a rummage sale stacked on shelves taller than I am.

From all the bears, doggies, and other critters, Q pulled out a mermaid with pink yarn hair and in a purple bikini.

At first, I my heart squeezed for him. That old stuff about what boys can have and what they can’t is still alive and real around me even though I try not to play that game myself.

Then I relaxed as I saw him cling to her every time I left him for the night in his bed and during the day when I went to work. Clearly he needed her.

My sister and husband pointed out that she was a replacement for me. And, deep down, I always longed to be a mermaid. In fact, I spent hours at the lake where I grew up pretending to be a woman with scales who could set up house under water.

When we cleaned out Quinton’s room this month, I asked him if any of the stuffed animals could go. He immediately pulled her out of the pile and handed her over.

My heart broke a little for The Girl. (I never was good at letting go of stuffed toys.)

Maybe at 5 years old he has bought all those messages about what boys can and can’t have. Maybe he has tough memories of learning how to sleep by himself and staying at daycare.

But I am grateful to The Girl, so now she sits with me as lumbar support in my chair as I write each morning.

And sometimes our newest girl cuddles up next to her. In a way, it’s like Sissy and I are taking care of a good and faithful servant. The Girl saw a lot of tears. She deserves a nice retirement.

Besides. In a house full of human boys, we girls need to stick together.

Other Wonders of the Week

During injections practice (mannequins only for now), a student pointed out how beautiful the sharps box looked with all its color and variety. It reminded me of the shot of my knitting needles I took a short while back. Funny how sweaters and shots have a connection through needles.

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Ash is the boldest cat I have ever met. He stood on the ladder with me for our entire paint-the-livingroom-wall project, moving to the paint tray when I needed the top rungs. Helping, he said. I am helping.

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And for my last wonder, I admired the flowers one of the tutors had made, and the coordinator gave them to me yesterday!

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May you find surprise flowers, great helpers and maybe even a mermaid or two.

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A recycled bit on the wonder series:

As a part of my 2016 blog revision, I started a new small weekly post I call ‘Wednesday Wonders.’

One of my favorite things about writing and other art forms is the way they open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.

I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.

 

 

Wednesday Wonders: Ever Dream You are Back in Middle School?

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In my last piece for The News Tribune, I mentioned my middle school teacher Mr. Pat Keaton.

He emailed me a few days later, congratulated me on my writing and then mentioned that Dieringer was celebrating its 125th year as a school district.

Would I like to go on a tour of the old school?

Well, yes. Yes, I had been thinking of asking the construction company that now owns it whether I could tour it for quite some time.

So here is my wonder for this week: a tiny school built in 1928. My 8th grade class in 1985 graduated about 70 students, and we were the biggest class in the history of the place. In this article you can see a photo of the graduating class of 1931 with eight students.

It looks even smaller now that it did then.

Petersen Brothers did an excellent job of utilizing the space while restoring and maintaining a historical site.

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They even pulled out the projector from where it once sat above the gym. Apparently, the community used to gather to watch movies long before my time when there was a town of Dieringer, Washington tucked between Sumner and Auburn.

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Middle school was not my finest hour.

Here you can see the baseball field paved over. Right here between the gym and the railroad tracks, I did not make the cut for girl’s softball. (I am not sure what I was thinking. I barely knew which hand to put in the glove.)

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It fascinates me that I wanted to go back to the home of the Fighting Shamrocks.

Don’t get me wrong. You couldn’t get me to return as a student to the school of olden days even if you offered me an all-expense paid trip to the SCBWI conference in New York. I don’t mean those years did not wound me. Adolescence grabbed me by the shoulders and shook my soul until I wasn’t sure my head would ever stop spinning.

But, honestly, the tour gave me amazing perspective. The troubles I have now will someday look as distant as the experience with the softball team. Twenty years from now I may even visit the painful scenes of today with a sliver of nostalgia.

Go figure.

May you look at your past with wiser eyes and maybe even see today a little more softly-

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A recycled bit on the wonder series:

As a part of my 2016 blog revision, I started a new small weekly post I call ‘Wednesday Wonders.’

One of my favorite things about writing and other art forms is the way they open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.

I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.

What to Do When You Crash and Burn

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On New’s Year Eve, I crashed and burned so hard that I am still recovering here at the end of January.

It all started out so well.

My son and I were at First Night in Tacoma. December 31st was the kind of cold that made everything hurt from the tips of my nose to the 4th chamber of my heart even when wearing a fluffy coat, gloves, and a hat. It was clear, it was crisp, and the frigid air made Quinton and me want to race to the next indoor place.

So we did.

We ran from the Tacoma Art Museum (which has very little for 5 year olds to do), hoping to get to the Washington State History Museum before we iced up like Anna in that climactic scene of Frozen. We held hands smiling and laughing as we zipped along toward a group of boring people walking calmly up ahead. It was one of the high points of 2015, and I knew I would remember the moment long after Quinton grew into a young man.

Then the tree root under the pavement happened. 

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Scene of the crash along with the guilty tree

Before we made it to Union Station, Quinton tripped and swung around in front of me. It was all I could do not to squash him flat onto the concrete.

We lay there stunned until Quinton began to sob.

“It’s a bad one, Mom,” he said holding his eye.

I felt like I’d done the splits without warming up after about 15 years since my last successful attempt.

I knelt on the icy pavement, holding him as the boring but uninjured people walked by while asking if we were okay.

I nodded. Quinton sobbed a little louder.

The night slowed down after that. We hobbled to the history museum, only to find it was not ‘participating’ in First Night.

Then we made it to Harmon’s Restaurant and drowned our sorrows in a big plate of fries.

Quinton’s eye healed in a few days. I’m still doing physical therapy for my hip and it’s slowly getting better.

But you know what?

It was worth it. 

That moment running down the sidewalk when 2016 was right out in front of us while my son raced with me to meet it will stick in my mind.

Maybe that initial joy will stand out more because of the freezing cold, the crash, and the burn of the pain.

I would do it all again.

(Okay, maybe next time I would avoid the tree root.)

In fact, the writing projects I’m in right now have great potential for pain and loss. Still, I plan to keep running down the creative pavement because I feel as alive as a five year old on a cold clear night when I do. 

May you all know great highs and console one another over french fries when it all falls apart like it sometimes does-

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Wednesday Wonders: Peace with the Shadows

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The wonders this week are heavy on the critters I know.

My cats love to harass the bird. For the most part, she takes it well, but I do lock them away from her at night so at least she can get a good night’s rest.

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Two shadows lurking in the background…

Ash especially likes to climb up to toast his backside with her heat lamp. Ella does not appreciate this although they have some kind of cease fire arrangement.

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As I was doodling on my Sunday off from writing, I worked on a sketch long before I saw that I was drawing my own cat and bird.

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(The original I modeled this from and found on Pinterest is here.)

After I was done, I realized it could be Ella and Ash in a reverse of their usual spots. Perhaps when the lion and the lamb lie down together, these two will be friends.

The strongest pop of wonder came for me as I went in for the torture of getting my broken filling repaired at the dentist. (It went alright. Tooth is fixed now and I can feel my jaw once more.)

I’ve gone to this dentist in the same office for over 20 years but have never seen the view from the offices across the hall. The door was propped open because of a remodel and the view hit me just as I stepped off the elevator. For the first time, I could see the mountain that had been hiding from me all these years.

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My walk with Q was my last wonder for this week. The rains started up again and the creek’s back up. We were so grateful for our rain boots that let us stomp around and explore the universe full of wonder around us.

May you make peace with your lurking shadows who are attracted to your light and see the surprises in places you’ve been many times before,

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A recycled bit on the wonder series:

As a part of my 2016 blog revision, I started a new small weekly post I call ‘Wednesday Wonders.’

One of my favorite things about writing and other art forms is the way they open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.

I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.

 

Wednesday Wonders

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My biggest wonder this week was a winter walk to a nearby ravine. It was a cold and clear day with the sun hovering above the horizon like it does this time of year. Q and I often travel down this path to get ourselves out of the house and into whatever Vitamin D we can find.

When it rained for 40 days and nights, this creek bed was roaring with water. Now it’s rather dry, at least up at the top where we started. Further down it filled with water dripping from the sides of the ravine. Amazing! (I would have to jump many WordPress hoops to upload my 3 second video but I did put it on Instagram if you’d like to see the water dripping.)

We had a few blackberry injuries toward the end when we got tired of scaling the fallen logs. But the wonder was absolutely worth the scratches. (At least it was to me. I might have to do some fast talking to get Q on that adventure again.)

Other wonders:

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Two young men stood staring up at these trees in Wright Park.

“We thought it was an eagle, but they’re just crows.”

I thought the crows looked pretty amazing in those naked branches — almost as amazing as seeing two young men in basketball clothes staring up at the trees.

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The cats rearranged the tulips I bought for Q without permission. I like their work! (That’s the wonder.)

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The moon and a planet showed up to surprise us on our way to preschool the other morning.

May you know a world of wonder,

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See my first post on wonders to learn more about collecting art and story ideas.

Need to Keep Yourself on Task? Try the Tomato Technique Badge

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While looking up blog designs and doing my research, I checked out the site of an illustrator and writer I really admire. I have loved Debbie Ridpath Ohi ever since I discovered her work in an interview by Dan Blank last year.

Debbie has a brilliant idea to but up a badge for wordcounts.

She created a badge you can use to post on your site if you commit to writing 250, 500, or 1000 words 6 days a week.

I recently found that word counts don’t work for me unless I’m deep in a long draft. Even then, they are a bit of a stressor. I find myself anxious to get through it rather than sinking into the process.

Instead, I found a technique that works better for me from a wonderful Massive Online Open Course called Learning How to Learn.

In this class, Professor Barbara Oakley describes the Pomodoro Technique, using the fancy Italian word for tomato.

Apparently (though I have never seen one away from the Internet) timers often look like tomatoes. I guess the ‘egg technique’ isn’t as elegant.

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My own timer looks like an iPhone. This could be distracting if people called or texted me at 4:30 am when I am writing but I suspect most people are asleep. (Shortly after writing this first draft my son’s school district did call to say there was a 2 hour delayed start at 6:00 am. So it’s possible.)

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I set my timer for 25 minutes of focused attention and then dial into what I am doing. After 25 minutes, I take a 5-10 minute break to get tea, check Facebook, or talk to my husband as he gets ready for work. If I have more time before the day job, I set the timer once more and get back at it. When I went on my writing retreat, I worked three 25 minute sessions in the morning and then one or two in the afternoon, too.

The professors in Learning How to Learn say that this sort of focused time is crucial when learning anything new (like how to write a darned novel or draw a tomato). They also say the breaks are vital. Our brains need the down time in order to process the information and come up with creative solutions like we do in the shower or while driving.

At the top of the post, I have a Tomato Technique Badge. I’m calling it by its English name because the poet in me likes the sound of the t’s.

My favorite Online Etymology Dictionary also told me this about the word:

‘tomato (n.)
1753, earlier tomate (c. 1600), from Spanish tomate (mid-16c.) from Nahuatl (Aztecan) tomatl “a tomato,” said to mean literally “the swelling fruit,” from tomana “to swell.”‘

I find it even more poetic and encouraging to think of my writing and other creative work as a ‘swelling fruit.’

Anyway, feel free to save my hand drawn tomato for your blog and link it back here. Or use Debbie’s badge if the word counts work better for you. If you don’t have a blog, you could print and post it to your wall. You could even draw your own!

However you do it,  the badge you choose shows your commitment to wordcounts or focused time on any creative endeavor you want to dial into 6 days a week. 

May you find time to create your own swelling fruit-

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Wednesday Wonders

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As a part of my 2016 blog revision, I’m starting a new small weekly post I’m calling ‘Wednesday Wonders.’

One of my favorite things about writing and other art forms is the way they open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.

I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.

This past week, I saw three things that surprised and amazed me. 

  • First, I went to Voodoo donuts in Portland, Oregon and found a maple bacon donut. I know many have heard of this, including my husband who asked for one, but I thought it was surprising. (And a little gross!)
  • Then, I noticed the donut shop’s pink box with elaborate cartoon drawings. That also surprised me and made me smile.
  • Finally, a lady I knew at church stopped to tell me she enjoyed my writing in the newspaper. As we talked, Delores told me that just before her 80th birthday, she decided to get a tattoo on her forearm. I loved the light in her eyes as she told me about her brother making sure she went somewhere reputable. She chose a pink flower instead of a white since the artist told her the white daisy wouldn’t show well. I’m so grateful she let me take a picture!

I’d love to know what surprised you this week. If you didn’t notice anything, keep your eyes open and a camera ready! Maybe you’ll find something for next week.

May you know a world of wonder,

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