The rain started with just a few drops, making wet splotches on the worn wooden deck. I looked up, and saw the maple leaves shivering; waves of silver sweeping through the trees.

Quickly, I gathered my scattered notebooks and pencils, and ran for the door. I had barely gotten inside when it started to pour in earnest, white sheets slanting down, hissing as they pounded the pavement.

In moments, the gutters were gurgling and chuckling as they emptied a wealth of water into the soggy soil. My dad called rain like this a “gully washer.”

It was certainly washing all the loose leaves off the trees!

The air filled with the smell of wet earth, wet earthworms, and the indescribable fresh scent of the rain itself.

I wanted to go out and dance in it. I wanted to feel it running like liquid life over my face and through my hair. I wanted to kick off my shoes, and skip barefoot through the puddles. I wanted to feel the mud squelch between my toes. I wanted to twirl on the slick grass, and see if I could keep my balance.

I love the rain.

And then it was petering out, as quickly as it had come. I dropped my notebooks and slipped through the door, through the last misty drops, and turned my back on the sun that was bravely shouldering the clouds aside. The light was the right angle for it. Was there? Could there be?

There was! There was a rainbow! A glowing watercolor swash against the dark western sky, where the storm still glowered. It swept from horizon to horizon, over the sun drenched woods shining in stark contrast to the purple clouds behind them.

Such glorious beauty! Such joy, to be alive, on such a planet!

Picture Attribution; image Tropical Rainbow by voodoostock – stockarch.com  Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. No changes made.

Stormy Weather – Short Story

I’m trying something different today. I’ve been writing some short stories, and I thought I’d post one here. It’ll be up no longer than a month, because I’m going to put it on Kindle etc., but I’d really like some feedback first. So if you are so inclined, please let me know what you think, in the comments. If there’s a place you think I should put it, besides Kindle, please let me know that too!

It’s been a month, so my short story Stormy Weather, has been removed.

You can find it on Amazon.com now. I put it in KDP Select, so if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free.

If you liked it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review. Reviews help a lot!


The Lighter Side – Crayons!

Life isn’t always serious. 😀

Remember the smell of a new box of crayons? The delicious promise? All the colors, ranked in their unbroken glory, with crisp paper wrappers still unsmudged? It was pure delight!

I remember looking at them, all those lovely, pristine points, deciding which would be the very first to make its mark! It was an honor, being first. I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of the others. But only one could have that coveted position. So I picked.

Remember the wondrous feel of that first silky line across the paper? The thrill of pure, unsullied color. Later, it would be contaminated, as all the shades it touched left their trace. But that first stroke was magic; unadulterated perfection.

More colors would join that one, as I created a picture where there had been only blankness. It’s that act of creation, of making something out of nothing, that’s always been so appealing.

It was then.

It is now.

As I used them, the crayons would start to age, their points worn down until they looked like horse’s hoofs. I’d carefully peel away the paper, and use the Crayon Sharpener that the swooping arrows pointed to on the back of the box.

I liked my crayons nice and sharp.

But I would need colors that weren’t in the box; not even the big box of 120. So I’d scrub one color over another, mixing them on the page to get when I needed. I’d use my finger, or a kleenex, to blend colors, smudging one into another.

I’d work that box, until all that was left were stubs, grubby paper on short ends that fell sideways into the gaps left by their missing fellows.

I would work them until they were gone.

Until nothing was left but a pile of glorious pictures.


Picture Attribution: Crayons I made using MODO.

Stories – Part 2

I keep thinking of people as living stories. Stories we each weave from we see, hear and are told. We choose which stories to believe, which to reject, which to pull threads from, weaving parts of those stories into our own.

Take, for instance, the thread “Ahmed is a Muslim.”

Our reaction depends on the story we have already woven. Do we fear him? Do we embrace him as a brother? Do we not care at all? The answer is already there, in the fabric of our lives.

Unless we encounter something completely new, that is always true.

We have never met Ahmed, but we believe we know all kinds of things about him, based on a single thread of his story. That’s the root of all bias, all stereotypes, all preconceptions. Any new information is compared to the pattern already woven, and incorporated or discarded.

To change, we need to unpick parts of our stories.

For some of us, the weave is pretty loose. We are content leaving loose ends floating around, and it’s relatively easy to pull out some of the weft, as new threads pass through our lives.

Some of us weave our internal stories so tightly that it’s nearly impossible to pull a single thread. If one thread turns out to be faulty, we weave more tightly around it, so it’s not visible. We “double down” because we fear if we pull a thread, the entire fabric will unravel.

Rather than that, we’ll put up with diametrically opposed, even mutually exclusive patterns in the weave, ignoring the discord. That feels less risky than reweaving.

Because reweaving, while always possible, takes enormous amounts of courage.

Courage that can only come from willingness to examine the inconsistency, which will give us strength to undo the error, and reweave.


Photo attribution: “Sacred Valley NGOs 051 – Awamaki weaving tour” by McKay Savage is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.  The image was reduced 50%

Stories – Part 1

Without stories, we would have nothing but a single fleeting moment, already gone even as you hold the beginning of this sentence in your mind.

It’s the stories we tell that give us context and meaning. It’s the stories that let us understand other people. It’s the stories that build bridges, walls, and footpaths between and among us.

Without stories, nothing has any meaning.

We, ourselves, attribute whatever meaning we want to events. Then we enshrine that meaning in story. We tell those stories, with that meaning, over and over until we believe the stories we have told.

We know that every story has two sides. We tell each other that, and we know it’s true.

So which story do we believe, when they conflict?

Too often, the one that lies easiest in the pattern we have already woven.

If it fits neatly with our ongoing story, we absorb it, and seamlessly add it to the fabric of our selves.

But some stories are different. Some stories demand that we change that fabric. That we cut some threads, that we pick apart our weaving, that we dig down and rearrange the very warp of our souls and lives, to make room for a truth so strong, so shining, so imperative that we cannot ignore it.

If we’re lucky, those changes come from stories we are told, not stories we have to live.

Either way, though, changes will come. It’s part of the story.

Photo attribution: “colorwarp2-060207” by Ruth Temple is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.  No changes were made to the image.


Spring is Coming

Another 300 word piece; I wrote this one a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still very relevant.


It’s been a very mild winter. My husband, Michael, never had to take the snow blower out of the garage. We’ve had a couple of storms that gave us more than the barest veil of snow, but both were followed by days so warm there was no need to clear the sidewalks. We used the solar powered method, and let a bit of time and rain shovel them.

The latest of those storms was a few days ago, and that snow is now melting under the caress of the sun. It’s getting all soft and mushy, and I can hear it trickling down the gutters now, chuckling and singing to its Sun-Lover.

We’re supposed to have some more cold days, as Summer and Winter have their annual fist-fight. But – spoiler alert – Winter is going to lose.

It’s still weeks away, but then we’ll have thunderstorms, not snow storms. Already, it’s starting to smell more like Spring than Winter. When I was outside feeding the birds this morning, I could smell the rich smell of good soil waking from its long slumber. Under the ground, the bulbs are stirring, putting out tiny, tentative roots, feeling their way into another season of growth.

The squirrels are starting to pair up. Our crazy red squirrel has a mate already, and the two of them are running around together, terrorizing the other residents of our yard.

I’m starting to think about what I’d like to plant. It’s that time of year. Last year, I was too sick to do anything. This year, I’m talking about raised beds, and pavers, a screened in porch, and a water garden. Way more than I can actually do. But it’s fun to plan.

Spring is coming, and I’m going to be ready when it gets here!

The Red Squirrel

So, yesterday I said that I’d start to post some of the 300 word writing exercises I’ve done. Here’s the first one. Exactly 300 words! Let me know what you think in the comments.


We have a red squirrel that lives in our yard.

He stands on the edge of the deck rail, alert and ever vigilant, like a miniature paranoid monarch, surveying his domain. All this is his, and no one better forget it for a moment!

Objectively, he’s incredibly cute. For one thing, he’s tiny; less than half the size of the other squirrels. With his russet fur, white tummy, and bushy tail tipped with black, he’s utterly adorable standing on his little hind paws, with his front paws clutched to his chest like a diminutive Napoleon.

Napoleon being the operative word.

If one of the other squirrels dares to approach his den under the brush pile, he’s off like a flash to defend it! He moves so quickly he appears to simply vanish at times. Then we can hear him, scolding and harassing the interloper until the latter is vanquished. As soon as he is, flash! There’s the red squirrel back on the rail.

Woe betide anyone who tries to steal a sunflower seed when he wants one! I’ve seen him roll on his back, eyes flashing, all four claws slashing at his opponent. The other squirrels retreat, scrambling to the safety of the grill, or down the steps to the derelict bird bath. Anything to escape the wrath of the Red Squirrel!

For he is tiny, but lo, he is totally insane! And mighty in his insanity!

Sometimes, he puts me in mind of certain politicians. He’s not better than his opponents. He’s just crazier, and people give crazy a wide berth. Crazy can also be charismatic, if you do it really, really well. I think that’s what the politicians are doing.

But really, I’d rather have our squirrel in office. He may be mad, but at least he’s darling!