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Cough, Cough, Hack, Sneeze

Day 26:

Well, I’m sick. I’ve come down with the crud, which might not be scientific (and certainly not specific) but has given me the perfect excuse to  skip day 26 of the 31 day challenge. But if I give up now (what would Edmund Hillary do? Didn’t I just ask him that the other day? Does it matter that he hasn’t gotten back to me?) … but I won’t.

Because it feels as if I’ve spent my life giving up at the slightest provocation. My art, my writing, my goals, my voice.

Besides, it’s only a cold. My husband brought home orange juice. And pudding for my sore throat. He’s fed the cats and fussed over me a bit and then left me to my books and my boxes of tissues.

Life is good. I’ll be glad when I’m well again.

But I’m especially pleased to be blogging with all of you today!


A mourning at the beach

Day 24: We Slice Open the Time Machine

Going through old documents in the computer and found this journal entry from May 11, 2010, thirty one days after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

dramatic gulf view

May 11, 2010

Last week, my husband charged up his video camera so he could capture how the Gulf looked before the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon disaster reaches our shores.

Except he kept finding excuses not to go. Finally, on an absolutely splendid afternoon, I got him to come with me.

But he put on jeans instead of shorts, even though it was 80 degrees outside, and we were headed for the beach. And he told me he wasn’t going to bring the camera after all.

My husband is a native of this area. He grew up around these waters. He crewed the fishing boats  before he even got his driver’s license.  For a few years, he was a shrimp boat captain, following in his father’s footsteps.

He gave up shrimping and went on to other things, but he’s always had a boat, even if it was just a rubber dinghy tied up in the  yard.

So he knows the Gulf well. He grew up fishing in the bays and the bayous. For all that I grieve over the disaster in the gulf, I know his grief is greater. It’s personal.

In his lifetime, this area has changed to be nearly unrecognizable to him. Even in the near 20 years that I’ve been here, the beaches of South Walton (to the west of us) have changed from sleepy little beach towns to endless condos and mansions that stand like giant boots upon the neck of a dream.

But you could still find pockets of wonder here and there. The dunes of Greyton Beach. The Gulf Island National Seashore, and several city, county, and state parks, all of which have preserved as much of nature as possible.

Until now.

We drove to the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, and made our way to the second floor deck. It was Mother’s Day, and throngs of people were there, hanging out at the restaurants, playing volleyball, swimming in the gulf, doing all the ordinary things that people do down here on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on the Gulf of Mexico.

The sand was as white as snow. The sky was as blue as I’d ever seen it, pure blue except for one bright red kite that floated gently above our heads, to the music of the Gulf’s sweet breeze.

No smell of oil. No hint of what’s to come.

My husband stood beside me, utterly still. Completely silent. Despite the laughter from the outdoor restaurant and the endlessly moving crowd below, it was as if the two of us stood alone in that place,  attending a funeral. But the grave was as wide as the world.


Update: March 24, 2016. Fortunately, the Gulf of Mexico has proved resilient. Six years later, our stretch of water is still breath-takingly beautiful, and safe. For now … we hope.

Strange Trespass

I haven’t been back to my outdoor writing studio since March 16th, 6th (! even worse!) which is the day that I posted about ‘my’ studio, which is located in our neighborhood park.

Here’s the photo that I had posted a couple of weeks ago:

outdoor studio long shot 2

Why haven’t I been back? Good question! And the answer is … Multiple Choice!

a) Been too busy

b) I spoiled it by talking about it

c) I’m avoiding it because I expect it to be torn down any day.

d) All of the above

e) None of the above

Answer Key:

a) While partly true, since I’m always busy, not a good answer.

b) Possibly true. But on the other hand, that’s a silly thing to think. So if that’s true, I’ll just have to get over it.

c) An even sillier reason. And so what if they tear it down? I can just move to another picnic table. And in the meantime, I can enjoy my own private enclosed writing space.

d) Yes, but also

e) True

Because I think that this is why I haven’t been back:

a deposit of rocks.jpg

Someone marked their territory. At first, I was amused. But then again, I haven’t been back. Why? Because I don’t want to disturb the pile of rocks. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like my space anymore.

I’ve kinda sorta maybe decided that the next time I head over to the park to write, I will bring a rock with me and add it to the pile.

What would you do, if you were me?

ETA: Based on comments so far, we (Yes, Dear Reader, you too!) are going to reclaim this sacred writing space! I’ll continue to entertain suggestions, but I’m leaning towards … something paper. As in Paper, Rocks, Scissors, remember that old game?

Paper covers rock. But I don’t want to litter, so will either craft a paper flag to insert between the rocks while I’m there, or bring a large paper bag that is of sufficient size to cover the rocks while I am there. When I go, I shall take my ‘claims’ with me.

I love adventures!





The Panda and The Saint Go Shopping

I have it in my head that good, decent people do Spring Cleaning. On the other hand, writers Observe.

Or so I tell myself during my random attempts at getting organized, clearing clutter, doing something about X so I can Y. (Answers are optional, but feel free to provide your X’s and Y’s in a comment.)

My X/Y, at least for today, means going through my Pictures Library in my computer so that I can find something to write about for DAY 20 (!) of the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

By default, all my folders are labeled by date and images by thumbnail size, which makes them quite small. So when I found this nondescript image of a car in a parking lot, I wondered what it was that made me take a photo. And then I zoomed in and found this:

The panda and the bear go shopping.jpg

I say it’s a rental car and the Panda is trying to figure out how to start the engine. I also suggest that the Saint Bernard is wondering why it ever agreed to come on this trip.

What do you think?

The world is full of blue bottles

Somewhere in my travels, I came across this small blue bottle. At the time, I just liked the shape and the size and the color.

small blue bottle 002.jpg

But now, I think, it reminds me a little bit of the jar of Vick’s Vapor rub that my mother used to rub on my chest when I had a cold.

The shape is different and the color isn’t exact. But stripped all identification (it was that way when I bought it) it looks like it might have come from an apothecary shop, maybe 100 years ago or so.

It belonged to someone once. It’s doubtful that this bottle was loved. I certainly didn’t love that jar of Vick’s Vapor Rub. But I loved the ceremony, the ritual. And the tucking in that followed. No matter how bad I felt, the healing had begun.


The Thief and the Tattooed Man

Day 18: I share strange news from the past.

From our local newspaper Today in Local History section, February 25, 2016 edition:

35 years ago Crestview (Florida) Fire Chief Dalton Brannon was on the lookout for a 300-pound fire hydrant that was stolen from a spot near Old Bethel Road.

Fire Hydrant

How desperate would you have to be to steal a heavy fire hydrant? Or maybe Spring Breakers just having some fun? Love the word choice here: “a spot” makes me think of Dalmatians.


water tower

20 years ago A Fort Walton Beach man sporting the tattoo of the First City Bank clock tower on his upper right arm climbed the tower and kept rescuers at bay for almost two hours.

This was was just strange. A tattoo of a bank on his arm? Who gets a tattoo of a bank, anyway? His right arm, mind you. Very specific, versus the generic ‘spot’ up in Crestview.

So there you have it: today’s slice is a small-town crime wave!

Edited to add: My brain is on spring break… for some reason I had him climbing the water tower. But was probably the clock tower, what with the tattoo and all, you think?  But leaving the water tower up just because!

History in a Pinch

I remember the first time that I was pinched on Saint Patrick’s Day.

I was in elementary school – a new school, which seemed to happen every year. Mother was Irish enough that she didn’t believe that we needed to ‘prove’ anything to anyone. Just don’t wear orange, said my Catholic mother. Only Protestants wear orange, so don’t you dare.

Well, I didn’t wear green and I didn’t wear orange, and I was black and blue before the day was over!

The last time I was pinched, I had forgotten what day it was. Our downstairs neighbor’s red-haired, proudly Irish daughter, who was eight years old at the time, caught me the moment that she saw me. Not because I wasn’t wearing green – it was because I was wearing a bright, orange shirt. Ouch!