A To Z April 2014 Challenge Survivor

A to Z…and I made all 26 posts, Sundays excluded.

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Zentangle

ZZentangle developed from conversation between Rick Robert, a monk in India for 17 years, and the famous calligrapher Maria Thomas.

It can be a soothing, meditative process since it is a free-form art. Zentangle reminds me of machine quilting.

Here is a great YouTube video that covers the basics. I’m fairly certain even I can meditate with this process. I hope you’ll give it a try and share your creations with others.

This post concludes the April A to Z Challenge for 2014. You might give A to Z a try for 2015 or as a general writing prompt any time.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Young

YA friend of mine is one of the youngest people I know. She’s also hovering around age 70.

Simply contagious. It is as if all the extra protons attach themselves to nearby electrons, even those of strangers.

Gregarious ought to be her middle name. She drives from the north to the south borders of the west coast and east a ways too. She teaches anyone who has an eye for artful craft. This is an annual odyssey. People remember her–hard not to–and return each year to see what new product she has brought along.

With her there is no pretentiousness. She has no patience for thoughtless people yet she will spend all the time it takes to teach a child who expresses interest in crafts. Adults too when she senses sincerity.

There will come a day arthritis claims the dexterity of her fingers; it is already working its way to the bones. I expect she may become road weary. If not, the financial hassles of buying, selling, tracking earnings and reporting taxes may erode her enthusiasm.

Hard to imagine her confined to fewer road trips. Harder still to know she may not visit each year on her pilgrimage.

So I steep in her company when she is here, phone and email between. And wish, fervently wish I had met her so much sooner.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

X-Ray

XI couldn’t be a reporter. I can pin down facts; however, few reporters are given time and column space to look deeper into an assignment.

To take a photograph is to capture what you see in a specific moment. To take an X-ray is to see deeper, to the structure of a thing.

Or to feel deeper, develop compassion into empathy. That is where I am found most often, in empathy. It isn’t often a pretty place. It has its rewards.

A child enraptured in a first experience. A child in overload from “just one more errand.”

There is recognition within me. Through the momentary connection, a fiction may race ahead or delve into what was, or more likely both. There is no conflict with reality because that moment passing isn’t as a reporter taking notes. I can take time for more than a photo. If I’m not careful, I find myself in the X-ray film.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Whiskers

WOn a crowded countertop adorned with a black-and-gold brocade banner, a clear jar rests among cast iron and black lacquer. The jar lid is spiffed up with a colorful image of fruit.

“I know the jar looks empty. Just don’t toss it or wash it out.”

“What’s in it?” Passing curiosity orders he ask.

“Whiskers.”

“What?!” He lifts the jar. His vision is changing so the jar does look empty. He tips it back and forth.

“Remember when we had Simone put down? You wanted a bit of fur to keep.”

“Where did that end up anyway?”

“My jewelry box.” It is a place he is likely to forget and I am likely to remember. “Cats don’t have much fur and the dogs are both short haired. So…I’m keeping whiskers.”

He glances up to give me the strangest look. “How will you know which is which?”

“The longest belong to the Maine Coon. The next and blackest belong to the Siamese. The terribly short belong to one dog or the other.”

He laughs. “How exactly do you find kitty whiskers?”

“All over. The bathroom floor, my side of the bedspread. And the dogs are easy. If I find it in the bathroom, it is his. If I find any others near their bedding, they’re hers or theirs.”

His brows scrunch, “What are you going to do with all these whiskers, woman?”

“I will make a leather bag with a drawstring, one for each of us. Inside will be these and similar treasures.” I am remembering all the mourning lockets through history with carefully preserved hair of a loved one.

He tips the jar several times before coming around the counter to hold me and kiss my cheek.

His own hair I have set aside, a memento from when his hair was long.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

V“Spoken Words Fly, Written Words Remain” Writers understand this phrase from the first moment they can read instead of being read to.

When I was young, “What did I say?” invoked terror in my little brain. I’m a generalist; I don’t remember things exactly. A specifist would gladly parrot whatever they were told.

I learned to write by learning to read. Oh, and reading took me so long to figure. I can’t say master since I am sure there is plenty left to learn while reading.

Once, I loved to write letters. I still keep a journal. Okay, pages here and there and over there, under that and filed in binary. I’m not an author, a poet or a journalist. I just write. I can’t imagine not writing, though I did try a hiatus once. My brain overflowed, I think.

Podcasting. Well, no. I tried hosting other people who read out loud. Not for me.

Is “Verba Volant, Scripta Manent” true for you? Is your blog the written words that remain?

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

UN Words

 

wpid-wp-1398444057883.jpegThe prefix un means not, reverse action, deprive of, release from.”

Great. What about UN as a prefix to verbs that don’t exist in the positive?

Undulate: Dulate. Not even a guess.

Unearth: Reearth? To earth does exist, much to my surprise.
* cover the root and lower stem of a plant with heaped-up earth.

English has un nouns as well.

Underwear: Derwear? Overwear, that’s a stretch. Outerwear? If so, why isn’t it Innerwear?

Uncuous: Cuous. Nope.

And then UN words that mean the same as their negative counterpart?

Unravel: Ravel? It means the same thing.
* untangle or unravel something

It’s a good thing English is my first language.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Trail

TI know she’ll be hungry. She’s inexperienced enough to fire a rifle while standing—on a hillside. She chanced a kill with no way to haul it. I boggle.

I’ve been two days and three nights puzzling. Okay, worrying. If a person has so little experience with the essentials of sustenance, how will she manage her own bandages? Shelter likely is an issue. Does she have something safe to eat?

With the venison smoked at different camps, the tanning of the hide was underway. Always on the move.

“April, I feel compelled to find this girl…woman.”

“You think it wise given her attitude?”

“Her inexperience might take her life.”

“Trying to find her might cost us our lives. If she has access to one gun, she probably has access to more.”

She has a point. I thought it through during the nights of worry. “We’ll have to take that chance.”

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

The Switching Station

SMy grandparents lived near an overpass beneath which a half dozen pairs of railroad tracks form a train yard, a switching station. This is where cars hitch up from one route to another, one engine to another.

It is a relatively quiet dance given the massive amounts of metal being shoved around. When the small town traffic and the highway noise reach a low, the steel wheels and rails sing. This became a lullaby of my childhood to which I fought sleep.

I returned at a point in my life when insomnia and had taken over my nights while confusion and sadness were starving me, literally. In three and a half weeks I had lost 32 pounds and could no longer keep water in my stomach. I didn’t feel and I didn’t care.

The first night, sleep wouldn’t come. I sat on the cement steps my grandfather had poured years before I was born; I fretted. I felt hollow of body and spirit. I felt a calm come on. It took some time to recognize the haunting lullaby still sings.

I slept.

The morning brought familiar smells and tastes at the table in my grandparents’ one-person kitchen. I ate some. During the day I ate the morning’s refrigerated ham between a room temperature biscuit. I sipped Southern sweet iced tea my grandmother kept refrigerated in what was once a one-gallon, glass pickle jar.

By the time I boarded the flight to Portland, Oregon, I felt physical relief. I was unsure what might have happened while I was in California. Sleep and time away helped me hold to the calming lullaby of the switching station.

Three children, my father lost to cancer left the two siblings. Eight grandchildren, one memorialized, and then great grandchildren. After 50 years of Grandma and Grandpa’s, we all mourned the day their home sold and they moved to another house.

Gone the scent of an old King James Bible read aloud in my grandmother’s cadence; the bounty of the garden my grandfather kept watered and weeded; the sight of their neat rows of multicolored canning jars on shelves beside his steel coffee cans filled with nuts, bolts and the aroma of WD-40.

The two-lane highway we used to cross to get to church three times a week is now two in each direction with the center turning lane bringing the count to five. Traffic never reaches a low.

I’m certain the wheels and rails still sing in the din.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Faithless Reverence

RThe fawn’s hide hangs a quarter of a mile away, atop a young oak with leaves just pushing to the surface of flexible branches. The sap had become restless since the winter temperatures warmed above freezing during the day. Open to the elements and winged scavengers, the hide will be ready to cure in a week—provided larger scavengers didn’t find it. Prowlers were the reason for the distance between the hide and ourselves.

To use every scrap of a kill is to live in reverence for life. The fawn’s life, the life it transfers to our bodies is immutable energy. There will come a day when I hunt smaller and again smaller game. I realize my life, flavored of reverence, will nurture something else’s life. My wife turns to stoke the smoker and smiles at my steady gaze.

My quiver is full before I swallow the first mouthful of venison. It is a moment of presence encompassing survival of all things. My wife feels the reverence as I do, though we haven’t a shared faith.

I am faithless. The laws of nature and science, such as I remember science, are sufficient to explain success or failure, rich health or poor health.

To raise her hands and voice in ritual, to speak to an entity greater than herself, it keeps her hopeful. The habits of her belief structure her living. And so her reverence is divided or shared among what she sees as a purposeful existence.

Gratitude for the strength of my body and the wit of my mind, those are where I place my faith. And in her skill. I observe her reverence and she mine without the need to explain its source on a personal level.

I suppose my reverence isn’t entirely without faith.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson