Friday, August 30, 2013

After breakfast at Gloria's, an assignment

Mr. Apotienne sat on his favorite pondering rock.  He was writing in his reporter's notebook using a non-skipping, non-globbing gel pen with dark blue ink.  The Reading Man had not been a reporter, not as a paying job, for some years yet found that particular size and shape of notebook suited him.   It was familiar and he was more inclined to jot thoughts in it than some upstart journal, given to him with the best intentions by friends who knew him, but not quite well enough.
Unseen forces, one of the names he used for what he believed was intuition or a pipeline to greater wisdom than his own conscious thought, arrived often to address Mr. Apotienne, to steer him in a particular direction for purposes he would later come to understand.  Or not.  Regardless, he knew to trust the guidance and to trust whatever came of it.  On this morning, having seen Mr. Guscott into his rental car, expressed thanks to Gloria for a most sociable breakfast and taken half his coastal walk, he had been urged to sit and consider, pen in hand, two topics:  treasure and secrets.  They sounded like elements from a fairy tale, a Hardy Boys mystery or any day he could name.   The Reading Man did not keep his own secrets for he knew the cost, the energy required to prevent their discovery.  There was not a scene from his past which he could recall that was not known to someone.  He was, however, a repository for the secrets of others, not an endless number of them but enough so there was at times an awareness of burden.  It would not surprise him to see one or more of these entrusted secrets break free of his hold and run into the street like frightened dogs, creating tragedy and havoc, leaving him to try and tidy up, then apologize.

A possibility for the treasure aspect came to him at once.  He would retrace his steps along the beach road, then return along the high tide line.  The number that fixed in his mind was three.  He sought three objects which he would know on sight but couldn't guess ahead of time what they might be.  No reason for gathering them had yet been revealed.  Whether or not the secrets and the treasure (or treasures, should there be more than one quest) had an obvious connection, he didn't know and stretched his neck and shoulders, wanting to keep from making attachments where none should exist.  Putting the notebook and pen away, he wondered if the three treasures could be accessed with equipment - his hands - currently available.  He wondered if the three items would fit in a pocket.  He wondered if one of them might be the home of a small sea creature or if one of them might be rusty and realized he couldn't recall when he'd last had a tetanus shot.  He muttered to himself that he had the thought process of a hobbit or higher functioning gerbil.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Keep it simple

For going on three years now, or so my counting tells me, I've had the good fortune to offer an introductory paragraph for the Stamp Your Heart Out e-newsletter (at the link, you can sign up to receive the newsletter).  Yesterday, the word (as in, Word of the Week) had been speaking to me emphatically, relative to so many situations.  Here is a copy.

Word of the Week:  SIMPLICITY

Our word today even has its own tune, "Simple Gifts," performed here

in a suitably embellishment-free way.  It originated as a Shaker song and celebrated simplicity, something which seems to be less generally appealing that it once was.  Unadorned, uncomplicated, easy, simple.  We can make choices that keep us from getting tangled in the knots of over-doing, over-being, over-wanting, over-having.  Depending on the season, I have become, for simplicity, a tee shirt, sweatshirt, sweater person.  Solid colors, plain, easy.  Oh, I won't pretend that I am not drawn with lust in my heart to a set of pink, hand-painted, flowered china.  One can still daydream.  Beauty is determined on a case-by-case basis.  But as a plan for living, simplicity helps me stay on my feet and in my, mostly, right mind.  We drift from what is simple when we argue, when we feel a need to be right, when we - ugh - feel a need to correct someone for something that really doesn't matter.  An awful lot of stuff doesn't matter.  As a mantra, "Keep it simple" has much to offer.  It gives us back time, energy, enthusiasm, joy.  Complicated is an unnatural state, no wonder most of us feel so tired.  P.S.  I have always loved the song.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Repost from August, 2011, about how we construct our lives, if we do

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Once again I am unsettled by this pesky, seemingly unbreakable habit, thinking about life and wondering of what is it made. Yesterday I knew it wasn't bricks...too large and solid. Legos, especially those 1x1 tiles, would provide a long and either tedious or enjoyable trajectory of construction, similar to building a human existence.

Then I discovered Stan Munro, architect and mayor of Toothpick City.

Photo, with thanks to Solent News and Photo Agency, art by Stan Munro.

We, I will say we though my only point of reference is I, wish to see the sturdy, not wobbling towers of our lives rising floor by floor, milestones one atop the other, the random setback appearing only as a few dropped stitches in the sweater's design. The key phrase is "wish to see."

Some scientists have come to believe the pyramids were built, not from stones but from composite material, molded in place as the tombs grew. The matter is still in dispute. Regardless, we, our own monuments to genealogy, family folklore, DNA, experience and imagination, while Wonders of the World by some standards, were not fashioned from rocks of mythic proportion. When I peer, squinting, at my personal timeline, my strata, with periodic scrapings transferred to specimen ziplocks, I find the structure is pure toothpick, growth often imperceptible.

As I experience it, more so as I pay better attention, life evolves one thought, one seed, one moment at a time. With his painstaking, scaled-down recreation of temples, skyscrapers and sailing ships, Mr. Munro reveals a parallel universe in which the process is more easily understood. Slivers, slender renderings from birch logs and glue, lots and lots of is a day's work, day after day.

There it is: life is a daily, hourly, one-second-to-the-next business. It is our choice whether we approach it with quivering eagerness, apathy or dread. I have begun to see my questions as answers; allowing them to remain questions is pointless. I have actually, and against all expectations, fallen in love with the Mystery.

Before sleep each night, I peel the metaphoric glue from my fingers, check to be sure stray toothpicks aren't stuck to the soles of my feet. Mr. Munro is able to see his progress as the Taj Mahal, the Chrysler Building, grow beneath his hands. The rest of us are left to faith, that what we have wrought invisibly will stand. When I wake, I trust the day will sweep in, tide-like, my next assignment in a secret language spelled by its foam.


Timothy Cahill said...
Dear Marylinn, the compost theory of the pyramids is fascinating. Aren't our lives built much the same way, today's experience upon yesterday's, compacted in turn by tomorrow's? Each of us builds our life according to the plans of the architect soul. Soul expands, the architect awakes, and cell by cell, spirit by spirit, a shanty becomes a cathedral.
Penelope said...
It's strange, isn't it, how little grasp we have of the construction we each build and inhabit — we feel we have a much clearer idea of the warm human edifice encountered in the other. And yet — nicely put, Timothy — we trust that it will now and then and increasingly resound with something like praise. Thanks for the thoughtful post, M.
Jayne said...
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a blueprint? But even so, the process always includes several change orders. I like the toothpick analogy-those little sticks can also be rolled along the ridges of your teeth, augmenting the thought process, giving pondering woody substance and structure.

The question is the answer, isn't it? ;)

(So good to be back here, Marylinn!)
Robert the Skeptic said...
Nice structure but it is merely one building... not to be outdone is the recreation of San Francisco (video here) done by another artist. This one even has a track for ping pong balls to traverse the tooth pick city landscape.
Laoch of Chicago said...
Interesting metaphoric post.
Marylinn Kelly said...
Timothy - Yes, and beautifully stated. Thank you. Keeping the soul fit and engaged, so the work may continue.
Marylinn Kelly said...
Penelope - Thank you. Sometime I think the sentence should be, how little grasp we have. Period. A strange order there is in being mysteries to ourselves.
Marylinn Kelly said...
Jayne - And how likely would most of us be to follow a blueprint. We all do have them, in moral teachings, models of virtue and success, but they don't fit or we resist them or fate delivers unexpected materials. Pulpy pondering, you've come to the right place. Nice to see you back.
Marylinn Kelly said...
Robert - Stan Munro does have structures far beyond the one cathedral, though I don't believe any of them are kinetic. The workings of the human mind and heart...Thanks for the link.
Marylinn Kelly said...
Laoch - Thank you. These synaptical leaps are entities unto themselves. I leave them to tell their own stories.
grrl + dog said...

you are back with the mystery!! Very happy for you as you seemed down for the last few months..

at least your toothpicks have diamonds in them.
Marylinn Kelly said...
Denise - I am certainly here (back?) with the mystery. Don't know that it felt like being down, so much as sober. These are sobering times. Toothpicks with diamonds, that will do just fine. xo

Side by side at Gloria's

The round table, the one with strongest natural light, made a snug refuge that morning.  Though it meant they had to turn their heads to see each other, the trio chose to sit close together, for the table was roomy enough, easily, for six or eight and they didn't want to feel so separated, so soon.  They sat on the interior edge and could see muted reflections in the fog-backed window.  Before midday  Mr. Guscott would be lifting above the valley and shore, flying toward what he hoped would be the known and the surprising in equal measure.

Mr. Apotienne, whose emotions he had come to regard as far-flung, or far-flinging, settled into his state of anticipated loss with the appetite of a stevedore.  He gave an instant of thought to the way food made a brilliant though temporary pain reliever and dove into his spinach and sauteed mushroom omelette as one might train for an Olympic event.   As much as he enjoyed butter in the years of his life before Billington's Cove and Gloria's cooking, he was now in a state of continual seduction/surrender to any food in which the taste of butter could be found.  He chuckled to himself, turned to smile at his companions, and just said, "Butter."  They nodded, sharing his pleasure.

It felt like sitting at the counter in a diner, the way Mr. Apotienne, the soon to depart Mr. Guscott in the middle, and Gloria had arranged themselves.  True, they were not in an absolutely straight line but almost shoulder to shoulder, elbows touching gently from time to time, not with enough vigor to spill anyone's tea.  Each held a notion of quiet wonder at the patterns that had etched so quickly into their days, at the connections forged with not all that many words exchanged, unless you tried to count Noel Coward, which was not a conversation by anyone's definition.  Still, it was communication.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gloria's pink china

With thanks to Martha's Vintage Attic.
There is tranquility to pink, a specific shade like the lining of a shell.  Gloria's table, set with blossom-sprigged china touched with gold was that color, as though something brighter had slipped in with the fog and grown silent.  Inside the teacups the pattern was softened further against a near-white background, cautioning, it seemed, that only hushed tones would be tolerated.  Then Mr. Apotienne laughed when he saw starfish-shaped scones dotted with golden raisins.  Pink china as a red herring.  There would be noisy and extravagant silliness at this breakfast.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts, prayers and love for all

I feel a need for some focus, reflection this afternoon.  I feel a need to send love to all the corners where it may have worn thin.  It is never as thin as it seems.  With love to all.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sights and sounds

There are images that I see with my heart which, I hope, is not quite as corny as it sounds.  The second illustration below feels like a boot to the chest, yet in a good way, which may seem unlikely.  Or maybe more precisely, some things grab me by the throat.  The sights and sounds here today fall into that not-entirely-rare category.  I am swept away by the imaginations of others, humbled and agog at the sweet morsels my species find to pull from the soup of eternity in which we all paddle.

Original art by Quint Buchholz, shared by Alice Vegrova on FB. If the work interests you - it fascinates me - do a Google Image search and see how many other bloggers have fallen under his spell.
For the sounds portion of our program, I took cues from Brain Pickings' Literary Jukebox which introduced me to First Aid Kit and the sisters' "Wills of the River."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gloria is loosely stitched onto the Follow-up to 5-year blog-o-versary

My words and I are still too far apart to trust that I will find the ones I want and need to express my thanks for your warm, generous comments.

What I am able to report is that members of Gloria's circle did arrive as I was falling asleep, with hints at some progress in their storyline, though there remain gaps to be filled, as soon as I can.

Well before her normal opening time, Gloria's silhouette appeared to Mr. Guscott and Mr. Apotienne as they approached the shop's kitchen door.  The wind had not yet risen, weighty fog muffled sounds and dampened potted flowers on the back porch.  Having behaved as though all was holiday and leisure for the two balmy days, Cove dwellers and visitors now took up their ordinary labors with barely audible harrumphing that suggested they were recovering from collective truantism. 

Mr. Guscott was launching himself onto the next phase of his journey that would eventually carry him back to Asian tea-growing regions, as close as he had come in a long time to calling a place home.   He insisted that Mr. Apotienne join him and Gloria for their tradition of a quiet, customer-free morning meal before his departure.  The warmth of the past two days seemed to have stuck the men together like a box of Junior Mints left in a parked car.  Each knew he had found, at the very least, a fine, reliable and mature pen pal.  They had scarcely begun to consider all that they had in common for Cove high-jinx had taken up most of the talking hours, which neither of them regarded with the slightest regret.  Here and there around the Cove residents wore their Hawaiian shirts over long-sleeved tees or even hooded sweatshirts.  It was too soon to relinquish every trace of  summer madness.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Five year blog-o-versary

August 7, 2008.  Who could have imagined?


Matters aquatic, actually more purely oceanic are the magnets of this moment.  That, of course, is in addition to fleeting wonder as to how I and the body that houses me will survive the demands of becoming stronger and more mobile as I go through the apparently inevitable setbacks that are part of physical therapy.  Knees that had begun to support me more reliably and consistently have chosen to buckle after what I think of as a particularly Herculean effort last week.  My bounce-back factor leaves much to be desired.  As an NBA fan, I watch experts sprint to aid an injured player and know there are some things that only money can buy.  Just tell us where it hurts.

Recently Claire Beynon shared via Facebook the tale of a trapped humpback whale and the lengths to which its rescuers put themselves in jeopardy to see the creature freed.  The story was most remarkable for descriptions of ways in which the whale acknowledged the courage and kindness of those who rushed to its aid.

I see myself in scarred, barnacled mammals.  At times I am able to claim steadiness, perseverance, perhaps a bit of grace if not majesty, simple endurance.  Before I lapse into unworthy sniveling, I will just say that, barnacles and all, I have found what for me is consistency in showing up at my own blog at least 10 times a month.  With the arrival in my life of Gloria, The Reading Man and the citizens of Billington's Cove, I am inspired to try and write more often.  The truth is, pain makes me witless and some days I am at the mercy - she laughed - of my physical self.  Fitting all the pieces together requires more finesse, based on the barnacle population and the need for heat or ice packs.

Thank you for visiting, reading, any and all comments, and coming back.  Thank you Lisa and Michelle for pointing me in this direction, giving me a shove and saying I didn't need to know just then why I wanted to launch this project.  Time continues to reveal the answers.  xo

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gloria and the night sky

Photo borrowed, with thanks, from this site.
On the second, and final, balmy night that visited Billington's Cove during that slice of summer, Mr. Apotienne wanted to walk home alone after the showing of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, but wanted more to have someone with whom he could commune about - things.  The choice of movie was a tradition, as was Hitchcock for the first night, followed by what The Reading Man and his companion in the newness of all this, Mr. Guscott, experienced as a sacred ritual.  It was an interpretation that bypassed their minds and rooted in their deeper and more ancient regions.  The tradition, ritual, call it what you will, involved setting adrift on the then-still sea, boxes the size of a half graham cracker, built up with rails and a flat bottom like one of L. Frank Baum's chicken coops on its way to Oz.   They were constructed of perhaps bamboo or a combination of natural woven fibers, each holding a lighted votive candle, and watching them group themselves into flotillas of light heading out toward deeper waters moved the two men and others in the crowd to silence, a wish for companionship and solitude, and tears.

The two men remained kneeling by the tide line with Gloria and many townspeople, standing up only to have a better view of the candles as they gathered with each other, sentient beings tasked with keeping the flock together, seeing that none flickered out, none was left behind, their numbers retaining brightness though the distance from the beach grew.  No words were required, a not unfamiliar state among the trio, and they shifted their watching from the water's surface to the sky, recalling the movie they had just seen and the suggestions it offered about the infinite, so visible, to which they knew they belonged just then.
NOTE:  The story will backtrack, we will not skip over the rest of that first day or the hours before the moments described here.  This seemed to be the place they all wanted to resume the tale.  xo

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We ARE more, so much more

I have a post brewing - in addition to Gloria - which was sparked by this.  I like reading it over and over.