Friday, June 11, 2010

Crayola Bombs and Silly Squabbles

I marvel at and admire my blogger friends who write about their daily life, good, bad, or ugly. The emotions seem to flow from their fingertips to the encouragement or empathy of the reader. I, on the other hand, sit with fingers poised on my keyboard, staring at the computer screen like a deer caught in the headlights. 

Maybe, it is because while I was growing up there was always a "shh", we don't want ______ to hear. Mother never spoke to anyone about the abuse she suffered at the hands of my father. Nor did I. Drunk or sober, physical or emotional, family  feuds stayed confined within the walls of privacy. 

The end result for me was growing up imprisoned in shame. If I cried it was shameful, so it was done in private. If I was hurting it was a disgrace, so I hid my feelings. If I reached out to someone it was a stigma, so I kept to myself. I carried guilt, disgust, low self esteem, and self-degradation. I grew up embarrassed, angry and debased. 

Today, I had to ask myself. How can I expect to help others to walk through the hard times if I am not willing to openly share mine. So, I am turning over yet another leaf toward emotional health. I am throwing it to the wind to land where it will. 

My adult children are squabbling. And I am feeling hurt and angry about it. Not because they are squabbling. That is commonplace in almost every family. But because it is past the expiration date and needs to be discarded.

I think most squabbles are petty and immature. I think life is too short, and relationships too valuable to be upset about earrings, nose rings, tongue rings, toe rings, tattoos, time, money, the honey, beauty, bad hair days, broken nails, big butts or no guts. I think opinions should be stated but not forced. I think it's okay to sweetly tease friends and loved ones, but not to continue to grind someone down simply because there is an issue with their choices. I think those who have already lost a loved one should consider the cost of a clash. I think the question should be asked. Is this really worth wrangling about?
Robert Fulghum said, "Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one...".

A Crayola bomb could blow away the goth coating on this squabble scene and like a black crayon scratch picture reveal a rainbow of colors. The bygone bickering could be hung with a memory magnet on life's storyboard and added to all those caustic turned comedy tales. Where the fruit is no longer wearing the loom, you can buy an adult costume for a hippopotamus, trees chip cheap china, It's Rubbermaid not Tupperware contain laughter, maybe a guy named Ray can fix it for ya, and afghans cover a multitude of sins. 

When the fallout clears and crayola confetti covers the ground we can still color our family with the kind of love that doesn't give up, doesn't keep score, doesn't quit, and keeps going to the end. So, in this case, let someone cast the first crayon!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's so Novel About a Peanut?

Peanut's fingers scurried across the lined paper leaving letters along the way. She dropped  a word or two and then snuffed them out with the pink rubber rectangle that magically removed the pencil line. Laying on her tummy, with a spiraled notebook before her, she crossed her feet and raised  them up and down as if to pump the waters of imagination from a deep well. 

A simple sigh ran up her throat, and dropping the pencil, she rolled over on her back and stared up at the ceiling. Leveling her hand toward the light she flexed her fingers, stiff and crampy from gripping the slender yellow stick. With fleshy pink lids falling over her hazel green eyes she tried to envision the legend leaking from her fingertips. 
In this one page prose the words had to set the scene, the spelling precise, and the penmanship prime. All of it had to be perfect. There was something to be earned from perfection. Approval, love, acceptance; these things were the salt on a tender peanuts shell; the flavor that made life tasteful, like a seasoned novel left you wanting more. She wondered if she was novel, and she wished to be wanted. 

Peanut pulled her eyes from the ceiling and they fluttered around the room lighting here and there, finally settling on a skid row of cardboard covered tales. The love of books was woven into her character. They were her faithful friends. But, the few she acquired were paperback paupers, lean on the reserved space upon her dresser. She cherished reading and could evaporate in the epic of a lined adventure. Her favorite fiction were those about horses, her pals and passion.  

Feeling the weight of her arm in the air, she lowered it onto a copy of Black Beauty. A tingling sensation raced to her fingers as she gripped the book and divided it in half. She brought it to her face, buried her nose between the pages, and delighted in the pleasant aroma of the paper bouquet. She inhaled a scent of satisfaction.

Laying the book down, she groped for the pencil resting quietly beside her. She wiggled the baton like a parade majorette, raised it to her lips, and clenched it between her teeth. The whiff of leaded wood drifted into her nostrils. She breathed deeper taking in the sylvan scent.

The smell made her think of a fabled forest, and a flight of fantasy carried her away to a covert cover of trees. She was flung down upon a bed of prickly pine needles and rusty leaves. The fall knocked the air from her lungs and she lay there for an instant catching her breath. Before she was coherent a velvet muzzle nestled in close and a burst of hot air blew her eyes wide open. Face to face, she stared into two deep pools of steely blue liquid color, surrounded by boundless white satin tresses laced with silver.

An urgent beat skipped across her heart. Trying to lift her head, she found her hair pinned to the ground by a cabochon cornet. A warm breath cleared a path to consciousness, and an odor of horse mixed with nectareous perfume brushed her flutters aside. She blinked away the last of the lethargy and her eyes crept up the magical myth.

There before her stood a fabulous beast not conceived from human fear, but from fantasy; fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, and mysteriously beautiful. Sizable cloven hooves were covered in liquid silver locks. Staunch limbs sustained a massive, muscular anatomy coated in plush sterling, shimmering with the brilliance of diamond dust. Never had she seen such a resplendent creature. 

Curiosity replaced capriciousness and Peanut reached up to touch the sparkling spiraled horn of the unicorn. Instantly, she was transformed from a peanut to a princess. Pedal pushers and plaid became an iridescent gown cloaked in minuscule crystals that matched the brilliance of the beast. Banded at her waist was a breadth of belted silver, studded in striking gems. At the side of each hip it divided, and joined once again well below her waist, where it narrowed to a pearly silver cord weighted with a filigree pendant of perfectly matched jewels. 

Her hair was no longer a stringy mass of girl curls but long, beautiful golden tresses. She felt a tickle and touched her brow now wreathed in a braided crown that mocked the waist-belt. Hung from the crest, in tiered fashion, were fine strands of silver lilliputian roses. 

Feeling as beautiful as the marvelous myth before her, she rested her forehead against his cushiony cheek and reveled in the grand, graceful moment. A flutter of wings momentarily distracted her and she raised her head to the mottled ceiling of natures greenhouse.  

A pure white dove descended from the heights and found footing upon her shoulder. The brush of his feathers fluttered against her cheek, and he cooed a tender greeting in her ear. Attached to his leg was a tiny band that looked something like a miniature mail box. Peanut peered closer and discovered a micro scroll stuffed inside. With nimble fingers she dislodged it from its hiding place and unrolled the parchment. Written in fine gold script was a message from the Lord of the Land she stood upon.

In a breath, Peanut was pulled from the fantasy by her own respiration. She exhaled in awe and wondered if she had fallen asleep and dreamed a dream; or been carried off by some mystical vision. It felt so real she could almost imagine a dusty shine in the air and thought she detected the faint, sweet scent of a mysterious nectar. And then she knew. This would be her story. 

Rolling back onto her tummy her fingers flew across the paper recording the conception of the scenes that paraded before her memory. Her mommy would be so proud of her. Maybe, even her father would give his approbation. She imagined the reception; an accepting hug, genuine approval, and love beyond measure. 

Dotting the last sentence she gathered up the paper and pulled open her bedroom door. She was excited about her teeny novel, but even more excited to present it. Down the hallway she could hear brittle bickering between her parents. It was commonplace and she shrugged it off. 

She stood a few feet from the doorway of the kitchen, gathering bits of courage. The smell of mulligan stew barred her tummy into a growl. Her mother was stirring the kettle and her father sat in his usual position at the table. She pondered him for a moment wondering what made him so unhappy, and what she had done to earn his disdain. His countenance looked shameful and disturbing. 

Suddenly he turned and caught her stare. Her eyes had lingered too long. Venom shot from him like an angry snake and Peanut recoiled at the sting of his words. She sidestepped the bite and swept to her mother's flank while quickly explaining her presence. But, she had not been fast enough. The story and her esteem were ripped from her.  

Her father briefly studied the adolescent script and a tiny tide of hope began to rise within her. Then the dam burst forth spewing a river of vile language and disparagement, and with a harrumph he tossed the crumpled paper onto the table and huffed from the room.

She retrieved the wrinkled composition, and before turning to her mom, swallowed the hurt, and forced back the waters that threatened to invade her eyes. Her pillow would soak up the tears later as she cried herself to sleep. She had watched her mama cry too much, and  learned to do without the comfort of consoling. An empty glass could not fill another. 

Handing the text to her mother, she already knew what to expect as it was placed to the side. It would be read later, but there would be no encouragement. In fact, because of some of the bigger words Peanut used, her mother would think she copied it from another source. 

If her parents had taken an interest in her report cards, they might have known she was a good student. High marks in spelling and language were one of her major accomplishments. And her imagination for weaving a story was beyond her young years. But, all that would wilt without the water of worth.  

With her head hung in shame and eyes on the floor, Peanut retreated to her corner like a whipped puppy. She tried to tell herself it was a good story, and reviewed the fairy tale fiction in her mind. She wished she could live in that beautiful land and be a princess upon a unicorn, and write in tiny, gold script on rich parchment. 

As she got lost in the fog of fantasy, a strange peace filled her heart and she remembered the scroll and what was written on it. "I am the King and you are my princess. Soon, very soon you will wear the crown of life."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Scaredy Cat and Hosta Kittens

I tawt I taw a putty tat! I did! I did see a putty tat! 

While stacking firewood I was prepared for strange little creatures that often bolted from between the logs. In the past I had bravely battled mice, moles, ground squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, and even a skunk or two. But, I hadn't encountered a kitten in the kindling until that fall day last September. 

She peered at me for a moment from between two split tree trunks; a small bundle of gray stripes whitewashed with four milky paws, and a snowy chest and tummy. Before I could coo a soft 'hello baby' she scurried out and took to hiding under the storage shed. 

I knew the poor little thing was dropped off and abandoned like so many others. After a few attempts to coax her into a friendship, I only succeeded in chasing her further away. The winter ahead would be hard on her. All I could offer was water and food if she was hungry enough to chance it.

The feral feline didn't appear again for months. But, I knew she was around based on empty evidence. Then, one day I heard a cat fight in the basement. 

Now, let me pause here to explain. Our house is old. Built in 1880, it stands on the original field stone foundation with hand hewn beams for support. Although we completely gutted the inside and added a small addition for a new stairway, the bottom remains untouched. Somewhere, there is a nook or cranny where this shy little 'putty tat' found her way in. No doubt to escape the gold tabby stalker from next door who thought he would get lucky. 

I rushed out the door, around the corner, and pulled open the Bilco basement door. As I stepped into the cryptic cellar, a gold blur rushed past me and scooted home. But, there on the ledge leered the scuttled kitty all grown up. She studied me for a few moments and then ran into the crepuscular crawlspace and disappeared.

Another few weeks passed, and one May morning she appeared on the front porch looking haggard and hungry. I raided the frig, found some chunk cheese, and watched as she gulped down a piece or two. Then, she snatched one up and disappeared into a hole in the old cement stoop under the younger deck. After a few cheesy, petty thefts she emerged once again and laid out on the top step like a poolside sunbather soaking up the rays.

I wondered what brought on this change of character when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature kitten and four little peers. There, in the hosta were a host 'a kittens playing a mixed up game of hide and seek tag you're it.

Momma kitty, who  my daughter and I affectionately named Emma hung around for a couple of days. We watched her and her kittens play in the plants, soak in the sun, and enjoy the edibles. Then, as quickly as she appeared, she was gone; kittens and all. She never gave us a wholesome chance to earn her trust and quite possibly placed herself and her kittens in a more dangerous environment. 

As I thought about Emma and her five little kittens, some with mittens; I couldn't help but think  how many times we wander in, hungry, haggard, and alone to the doorstep of the King. We don't say a word. We just wait for Him to notice us. And, He does from the time we show up. 

So much like those six furry felines, we feel uncertain that His love could be real. Like Emma, we may feel abandoned, rejected and tossed aside, resulting in growing suspicion and a false idea of being tamed. We wander through adversity and the gnawing of need brings us to God's porch where we allow Him a temporary trust to feed us. We take just enough to satisfy our hunger but do not realize our haggard condition. And then we run away into a more dangerous situation. 

To be cared for by the King doesn't mean we have to lose our freedom, our spirit, or our identity. In fact, we gain greater freedom and a stronger spirit; a beautiful and lasting identity. To be tamed by the Master of the house is simply submitting to a greater love by One who will never abandon us.

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