Saturday, September 2, 2017

Generosity and Gratitude

Thank you for the party
But I could never stay
Many thangs is on my mind
Words in the way

I want to thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin

~~ “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly and the Family Stone

I mentioned in a previous entry that I had a great birthday and the best part was the generosity of my family and friends who contributed to my birthday fundraiser for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

My fundraiser ended today and I am blown away by where I ended up. My goal was $50 and thanks to all of the amazing people I know, I raised $450!!

I honestly cannot begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who contributed. I’m not at a loss for words very often, but you all have left me speechless. (Ken would like to know your secret!)

I know that sometimes it seems like we can’t make a difference, and I know this was just a drop in the bucket. (If I ever win the lottery—which won’t happen until I start playing—I would have a blast figuring out where to give a bunch of it away!) But I still believe that seemingly small actions can make a difference. Something as simple and as easy as a smile can turn someone’s day around.

Never underestimate the power of kindness. Together we can make the world a better and kinder place. It won’t happen overnight, but every step in that direction is a positive one.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sun in an Empty Room

Cassandra stood in the empty living room and looked around. Dust motes swam in the sunlit air but nothing else stirred.

It had been a difficult year for her and Jack. They had lost quite a bit of money when the stock market crashed and they had managed to hang on in some rather creative ways. As she looked around the house, she thought about the backyard, out near the trees. She told herself that it would be fine.

She took one last walk through the house. As she walked up the stairs to the second floor, the stairs creaked in all the places that she expected them to, and it brought a smile to her face. If she knew little else, she knew where the squeaky boards were. She ran a finger up the balustrade and noticed the little trails her fingers left in the dust. She had been neglecting the house cleaning lately and she vowed to keep a tidier place wherever she landed next.

When she reached the landing, she turned to the left and walked down the hallway. On her right, the white-tiled bathroom glowed in the afternoon sun. The faucet in the bathtub was dripping slowly, a slight ‘plink’ echoing in the empty room every time a drop fell. She walked over to the tub, her heels clicking on the hexagonal tiles, and tightened the handles. The drip stopped.

She returned to the hallway and continued down to her and Jack’s bedroom. She stopped in the doorway as she looked around the empty room, thinking of the way their bed caught the early morning light and how when she would protest the sunlight, Jack would put his hand over her eyes, and then when she laughed, he would kiss her and they would make love, the air cool but their hands warm.

She walked to the window and opened it, leaning out to smell the scent of the pines. She closed her eyes and inhaled. She would remember this smell for as long as she lived.

She closed and locked the window and turned to leave the room. On her way out, she saw a feather by the floorboard near the door. She bent and picked it up. It wasn’t from a wild bird; it was from her feather pillow. It must have been from the time that Jack got angry and pulled a gun on her. She had rolled off the bed before he fired, and although she had survived, her pillow had not. She rubbed the feather between her thumb and forefinger and went back to the stairs.

When she got back down to the first floor, she went left into the kitchen. There was still enough sun this afternoon that the kitchen glowed. The turquoise metal cabinets were pristine and she still loved the color. She hoped her next place would have cabinets that she loved as much as these. She opened the cabinet door where she had stored her spices and the smell of cinnamon, basil, and other spices lingered. The black and white linoleum floor was clean, and one would have to examine closely, perhaps on their hands and knees, to see any stains.

She looked at the stove and the countertop nearby. Everything looked clean, but...what was that under the metal edge of the counter? A small dark spot. She picked at it with her fingernail and was satisfied when it flaked off and vanished in the air. She leaned back against the counter and looked around. As far as she could tell, nothing remained of the night she found Jack with Ginny.

She and Jack had always had an agreement, one that allowed for certain dalliances, but that depended upon the premise that it would always end. In a most permanent way. When Cassandra came home early and found Jack and Ginny in the kitchen, she understood that this was not going to end in the usual way. At least not as far as she and Jack had always planned it. Jack said he was in love with Ginny, no matter that she had recently gotten married to the owner of the Hula Room. No matter that Cassandra and Jack had been partners in both love and...other collaborations...for ten years.

Cassandra had never really liked Ginny, so that wasn’t hard. But she had genuinely loved Jack and felt that he was her partner for life. They had been through many adventures, some bad, but most of them good, and everything that needed to be hidden, they hid together. Things had been really good for a while there, Cassandra thought. But maybe she didn’t know as much as she thought she did. She shrugged. Oh, well.

As she walked out of the kitchen, she touched the sharp corner of the counter on the way out. After she had taken care of Ginny with the cast-iron frying pan, Jack had tried to grab her, but she had spun away from him and it put him off-balance. When he went down, he hit his head on that corner. She watched him, and she thought about doing something to save him, but when his eyes went to Ginny and he reached a hand to her, rather than Cassandra, she stepped back. “What happened to loyalty, Jack?” she had asked him. He had groaned, and didn’t say anything, and then he had died.

Oh, well.

She had cleaned up as best she could. It was much easier when Jack was helping her and she missed him. At least in that regard. It was much harder to dig a grave on her own, let alone a grave big enough for two!

Cassandra shook her head and shook off the memories. She left the kitchen, walked out the front door, and closed it behind her.

As she stepped out onto the porch, she realized she was still clutching the feather from her pillow in her hand. She let it go and watched it float away.

*** I love Edward Hopper's paintings because they make me think of things, and stories, and situations. This is a follow-up to my Cape Cod Morning story about another Hopper painting. I'm thinking that you don't want to mess with Cassandra!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our eyes are open

There's a madman looking at you
And he wants to take your soul
There's a madman with a mad plan
And he's dancing at your door
Oh, what to do, oh
What to do
When the walls are built to crumble
There's a madman with a mad plan
And he waits for us to stumble

Oh, but our eyes are open
Yeah, they're really open
I say we rob from the rich
And blow down the door
On to the next
To dance with the poor
Jump on my shoulders
You can jump on my shoulders

~~ “Jump On My Shoulders” by AWOLNATION

Today (technically yesterday) was my birthday and it was a very pleasant one!

After running a couple of errands (my favorite clerk at the grocery store said, “Nice to see you!”), I did some of my favorite things. I listened to some great music and discovered some new stuff; I watered my plants and picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes and another zucchini; I finalized plans for us to meet up with some of my favorite people in the world Wednesday night; I watched some video of James Comey and petted the kitty. Sheeba was a happy cat.


I wore some of my favorite things, including one of my “Lordy I hope there are tapes” t-shirts (yes, I have two), a pair of Daryl Dixon socks, and my book earrings that are the cover of The Stand. For a while, when it was warm in the afternoon, I was able to walk around without pants. What can I say? Little things make me happy.

Then I got some beautiful roses from Ken and opened my cards, and they all made me smile.

Throughout the day, I got well wishes from so many of my family and friends on Facebook and I think I managed to respond to each and every one! If I missed a couple, it is entirely my fault. There was a smile on my face for pretty much the entire day and that is nothing to sneeze at, my friends!

The absolute best thing, the thing that made me cry happy tears, was that this year, Facebook suggested a thing where you can “donate” your birthday to the cause of your choice. I got that notice about a week and a half ago, and after vacillating between Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center, I chose the latter. I donate to PP often and in the wake of Charlottesville, I thought the SPLC was an important cause to champion.

Facebook suggests a goal of $200 to start out with, but I wanted to go low-ball. I figured that maybe people would donate a buck or two, and if enough of my friends did that, it would mount up pretty quickly. So I set my goal at $50.

I was stunned when my very first donation was $50! I had already met my goal!

Today got even better. Multiple people donated today and as I write this, my family and friends have donated $370 to the SPLC and I am absolutely blown away. (I thanked everyone there, so I won’t repeat the thanks here.)

There are still three days left, so if you want to donate to my birthday fundraiser, you can do so here!

This was a small (but wonderful) reminder of the generosity of people and we are seeing that played out exponentially when it comes to our friends in Texas and on the Gulf Coast. It seems like lately we have been seeing the worst of humanity, so the generosity of my friends today and the generosity of the American people to our fellow citizens in Texas has been beyond uplifting. It has, for the moment, restored my faith in humanity.

I still believe that our innate goodness will win and I still believe that there are more of us than there are of them.

A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated today, whether to my fundraiser or to organizations like the Red Cross. This has been a wonderful reminder that we are stronger together and that when we help each other, we can do good, and sometimes even great, things.

Peace, love, and gratitude to all who choose to make a positive difference.