Archive | May 2012

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 4: Winning

I was going out to the garden to grill a steak and knocked over my easel.  “Shit!” How am I supposed to deal with that mess?! I’m too hungry, even though the steak is not for me.  It’s for Max.  I know, I know, I spoil him.  It’s easy to do when he looks at me with those soft brown eyes.

I have some veggies I’m going to grill, too. Asparagus, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, corn on the cob and a couple of veggie brats. And I have peaches, pineapple and watermelon to grill for dessert.  I just have to make sure I cook his steak on one side of the grill and the veggies on the other.  I can’t stand the taste of  meat tainting my food.  As I said, Max is special to me. He has me doing things I’d never do for anyone else.  He’s stayed with me through all of it. Every class, every contest, every show, every disappointment. So I owe him a lot.  And steak is his favorite.

We’re grilling because it’s so nice outside and we love to be in the garden. Hence the reason my easel is out here. It’s my latest effort to emulate Monet.  Although my little garden here in the city is pretty small compared to the vast estate Monet had at his doorstep. Still, I’ve planted as many flowers as I can and tried to blend them so they don’t overshadow one another. Although that red rose doesn’t look very happy…. never mind I’ll have to take care of it another day.

Distractions are easy. I have to do one thing at a time. As you can tell I can’t walk and carry a plate of food without knocking something else down. Now where was I?  Oh yes! Grilling.  The charcoal is ready. The grill is clean.  I lay everything out on the grill.  The veggies are mostly on kabob skewers. The asparagus is in a grilling basket. And the steak is small — half  a pound will be two meals for Max. I’m leaving the fruit until after the veggies are done so there’s room on the grill.

OK, now to pick up my easel and all the spilled paint.  Luckily I prefer watercolors so the paint will wash off the flagstones with the rain I feel in the air. As I look at the canvas I realize it’s now textured. It was still wet enough that it picked up small bits of gravel and dirt and a couple feathers. And it looks… good.  It looks just fine.  The bits it picked up have added texture – not the usual for a watercolor and that’s okay. I set everything back up and head back to the grill in time to keep the food from burning.  Max doesn’t really care if I burn his steak, but I try not to add that many carcinogens to his diet.  (Yes, I did marinate the steak to reduce the creation of those compounds.  What kind of person do you think I am?)

As I pull the veggies and the steak off the grill I feel the first drops of rain.  I grab the plate of food and my easel and head inside.  Max grins and wags his tail.

I’ve got a good feeling about this painting.  I’m going to enter it in a contest tomorrow.  I think it’s going to be a winner.

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Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

Thanks to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/ and Mary C Sutton for the challenge and the company while I wrote.

That thought…

I’ve never had that thought before… I’ve always been able to rise above, to consider that “this too shall pass” and, yet,  it came, unbidden, as I was sitting at the dining room table one day not long ago – “I don’t think I can live like this.”

That thought hasn’t appeared again. It never occurred to me before. What has changed? Maybe it’s perimenopause. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s true?  No, I don’t think so… at least not today.

I’ve lived with diagnoses of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis (and a few other things) for more than 10 years. I’ve worked 40+ hours per week. I haven’t asked for or really considered disability. So why did I have that thought? My marriage is basically happy. My life is pretty good. And yet, on that day, in that moment, I considered another option.

And then I felt guilty. I am not dying of an incurable disease like ALS or cancer. I do not have a progressively worsening diagnosis such as MS. And yet the pain can be so debilitating that in a moment of weakness that thought occurred to me.

The strange weather this season has taken a toll on everyone I know with chronic pain such as  migraines or arthritis or anything else. Here in tropical Minnesota  it was 80 degrees F (or maybe it’s 80 F* degrees?) on March 15th!!  Not normal weather for this part of the country.  Of course, within two weeks there were severe frosts that took out a lot of budding fruit trees.  On April 19, 2011, I documented a snowfall on my digital camera. And the weather has bounced around from Summer to Winter then briefly to Spring. Those kinds of atmospheric changes wreak havoc on anyone with chronic pain.

And the thunderstorms these last few nights kept me awake… which adds to the cycle – lack of sleep, increase in stress, increase in pain.

One of my favorite speakers, Dr Edward Creagan of Mayo Clinic, gave a presentation this week and said the basics to reduce stress  include: walk 30 minutes a day; strength training; restorative sleep (and he added “which most of us never get”); plant-based diet.  When a woman asked him about insomnia, he suggested winding down for 30-45 minutes before bed.  I wanted to ask him “What about when the hot flashes wake me up?”  “What about when the pain wakes me up?” “What about when the I-just-can’t-get-comfortable rotisserizing starts?” And I know the answer is “Go back to the basics.”

It’s that simple — if only it were that easy…

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 1 – An Un-Fairy Tale

What makes a fairytale? And in contrast what makes an “unfairytale”? or is it “unfairy tale”? (is there a difference?) or perhaps “unfair-y tale”?

Never was there a time… A man never lived… or Never lived a man…

There was a fairy who wasn’t fair – not fair of face and not fair in his dealings. He struggled to face himself in the mirror every day because he was homely and because he knew he was not kind to himself or anyone else. He was selfish and it showed in his ugly countenance. Now if this were a true fairytale, he would be redeemed by the end of this story. He would learn his lesson and perhaps with the improvement in his outlook his appearance would change, too. Since this is an unfairytale, we do not find any such redemption.  He continues in his wicked ways unchecked throughout his life and dies miserable and alone. We could go through all the nasty things he does to others, the ways he tries to make them as unhappy as he is, and yet he never succeeds, so why bother describing his actions. The others go on with their lives, slightly disappointed in the moment they encounter him and still manage to maintain their equanimity. He never understands why he is the way he is. He never knows that his treatment of others, although rude and hurtful, is never enough to truly ruin their lives in the way that his is ruined. And he never comprehends that his life could have been different.

He lives a very long time because the powers that created him wanted him to change.  They wanted him to understand that his life could have meant something other than as a trial to those around him.  They wanted him to have redemption. And somehow he stubbornly persists until the very end. Even in death he is not repentant and not worried about where he will go after he dies. Of course, there is no hell, so he passes to the next world. And because that very passage brings with it the awareness of why one has lived and died, he is finally shamed by his behavior. He has no chance to make amends for the wrongs he has caused others. And no opportunity to atone for the sin of selfishness. He realizes he has only harmed himself and his progress. And so he chooses to spend the interval in solitude to contemplate how he could have changed and how he can correct himself and his path so that when he is given the next opportunity he can use it to its fullest. He won’t waste another chance and he will prove to them that he is deserving of that chance. His next life begins in abject poverty in the gutter of a large Asian city. And he is happy to be there.

So perhaps, since he is finally redeemed it has become a true fairytale. Maybe there is no such thing as an unfairytale after all. The End.

With thanks for the inspiration to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/

and for the Story-A-Day challenge at Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/