It’s the Hap-Happiest Time of the Year


It’s that time of year again. It’s that time when I spend two days going through two-dozen garbage bags of seasonal clothes, tear down a hundred cardboard boxes, and sift through a garage full of crap just to get to the Christmas decorations. Every year I tell myself I’ll finally get around to cleaning and organizing the garage, but each year I’m a little older and have a little less energy and strength, and it doesn’t get done. And every year it’s a little harder to get to all those boxes that stand stacked against the back wall.

What I need is a shit-ton of those red and green plastic bins and a couple of people to help me. A new, younger body wouldn’t hurt, either. Oh, hell, I’ll just say it. If this were 1980 I’d just snort a line or two and do it all myself. But times have changed and I’m too old for that crap. Besides the legal and financial ramifications, I’d probably give myself a heart attack.

On Saturday evening we’re having our annual Christmas decorating party. Well, it’s not really a party as such. We just bribe people with sips and nibbles and they come over, listen to holiday music, help decorate, and we all have a merry old time.

Why doesn’t this logic work where cleaning the garage is concerned?

Yesterday, I raked all the leaves in the driveway and nearly did myself in. Don’t laugh. It’s an 80+ year old oak tree that drops literally thousands of leaves and houses a family of squirrels that drop their acorn debris everywhere. After the leaves are raked, cleaning up after them is like sweeping a pub where people toss their peanut shells all over the floor. It takes all afternoon to do this these days, and now I’m in bed with a sore back. Ironically, my bum knee is no worse for the wear. Thank goodness for that knee brace! I also wrapped some lights around the tree’s double trunks and fed the power cord under the leaves and into the garage. I’d like to do more today, but it’s not looking good. The front porch comes next and I still have the Halloween deckies to take out to the garage (they’re out of sight on the porch floor), but where the hell am I going to put them?

Can’t think about that right now; I feel like I’m standing at the foot of Mt. Everest without a coat.


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The First Gift of Christmas

The Polar Express from where I stood.

Last night the Polar Express went through Stillwater. Seems it’s moved from Bristow, OK and is here to stay. We’ve been hearing it go by all week as Santa’s elves rehearsed their parts and learned the fine art of serving hot cocoa and cookies on a moving train.

Because we live less than a block from the tracks (which I love as I’ve almost always lived near train tracks), we can hear the Polar Express’ whistle when it’s a mile away, and we feel its rumble when it’s two blocks away.


Last night my son Micah and I walked over to the tracks to greet it as it headed back to the Stillwater depot for its last run of the evening. I was able to get a pretty good video, too. I was surprised to see both of the General Class cars empty, but the First and Diamond Class cars were full and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Apparently, the train takes its pajama-wearing passengers to the North Pole and back again while Elves tell the story of the Polar Express. The highlight is when, at the North Pole depot, Santa gets on board and hands out silver bells to everyone. I imagine the train will be much fuller the closer we get to Christmas.


With all the ugliness and uncertainty that’s going on all around, the Polar Express will provide some much needed lightness and magic. Kudos to the folks at Eastern Flyer, and the City of Stillwater!

You can find more information at the official website of the Polar Express.


“The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going.
What matters is deciding to get on.”
The Conductor of the Polar Express

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The Search For a Noiseless Peace

Seeking Peace

I’m increasingly spending less time online these days. I’ve all but abandoned Twitter due to the vitriol that’s spewed in all directions there and I find myself signing out of Facebook within a few minutes of logging in due to the debates and arguments in my feed. Everyone’s on edge right now. Everyone seems to be looking for a hurt, or an offense, or a reason to spar with words and ideas and it’s too easy for me to get rattled by the noise. I know people are just trying to make sense of recent turns of events, but I’m already worn out and must choose not to pay attention for my health’s sake. Don’t talk to me about politics anymore. See that glassy look that just washed across my eyes? It’s a clue that I’ve already tuned you out. And if I don’t “like” your post or comment in Facebook, it’s a fairly good indication that I’m not paying attention.

I’m a dreamer. I dream not only when I’m asleep, but also when I’m awake. Every night for the past week or two my sleeping dreams have turned into nightmares. Nightmares of being pursued by angry mobs, of being imprisoned by Nazis, of being tortured, and even standing in line waiting to be executed. Fortunately, my years of experience with lucid dreaming helps me to shake myself awake, panting in a cold sweat as I try to lower my heart rate. The problem is, by being part of a group targeted by America’s new and growing regime, I feel as if I’m waking from one nightmare only to enter another. The fact that I live in a solidly red state and that, so far, Trump has appointed only racists, homophobes, and KKK sympathizers to his upcoming cabinet just doesn’t help.

I don’t live in the woods, or on a mountain, or by the ocean. I live on a fairly noisy corner in the downtown area of a small city. I don’t even have a back yard with any privacy. Next door lives a family with three little girls who employ  screaming as their only means of expressing any given emotion, and adults who yell at the top of their voices and repeatedly honk car horns in their driveway in the mornings before the sun is up. The corner streets on two sides of our house are riddled with traffic and boom car stereos, and the avenue is a major route used by every vehicle that has a siren.

There’s nowhere I can go to be alone with nature when I need to clear my head or simply get away from the noise (I have no car), and now, even my favorite online escapes have turned on me. I increasingly find myself watching historical documentaries in YouTube (I love history because it reminds me that human beings have been through worse and we always seem to land on our feet) and listening to my folk music channel on Pandora. Spending most of my life in California, I used to go to the beach when things got too heavy. I’d hunt for faery glass, I’d read, write in my journal, or just lay quietly listening to the rhythmic constancy of the surf. How I miss that now! My mind is scattered, my nails bitten, my nervous system twitching, and my tinnitus is so loud, the only way I can escape it is to hide away in music through earbuds. It’s the only escape I have left. Of course, noise employed to cancel noise is still noise.

“Our world is becoming more busy and noisy.
We are pushing silence out of our lives at a rate that suggests
a fear of what it has to say to us about ourselves.”
John O’Donohue

I’m well aware of the importance of letting the world’s sounds be what they are. The attainment of inner peace relies more on the acceptance of the noise of the world than it does on trying to control it, but now my inner peace has been shaken. Will my Medicare and Social Security—into which I paid since I was 16—be taken away? Will our landlord evict us for being a married female couple? Will my spouse lose her job due to this? Will I be a victim of a hate crime? The answer to these is most likely no, but the seeds have been planted and it’s hard to pull them up by the roots when every place I’ve enjoyed on the web now works so hard to replant them. Yes, I’m given to worry and the older I get, the harder this is to control. I’m working on it. I write, I read, I listen to healing music, I avoid the debates and arguments. I do what I can.

And the daydream of living in the country again is never far away.


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Red Pencil Time


I’m not always good at listening to myself. I always hear my inner voice, but I can’t always seem to make sense of what it’s saying to me. Case-in-point, Book Two, With A Bullet. It’s been sitting here waiting to be published for over three weeks. Why have I been putting it off? More importantly, why am I ignoring the fact that I’ve been putting it off? The answer is simple, but it took me a while to figure it out. There’s something about it I’m just not happy with. I like it fine until about the tenth chapter (although something almost imperceptible starts gnawing at me two chapters earlier than that), but then I just want to skim over it. I learned years ago, if a writer is compelled to skim their own work the readers definitely will. The book never really recovers, either. It burns and itches until the story ends three chapters later.

Needing something other than politics to focus on (actually, I need to retreat from them again) I’ve decided to rewrite chapters 8 through 13. Publishing this book right now would be a big mistake. Instead, I’m going to rework everything until I like it. I’m in no rush and I’m not going anywhere so why not?

I may be absent from the internet for a while, outside of my morning rounds. Also, the holidays are breathing down my neck just now, which makes doing anything with any sort of regularity increasingly difficult.

Drinking wine may be the only exception to that.

So have a great day, week, month, whatever. I’ll be back as the spirit moves.

P.S. I’m so happy not to be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year! I wish they’d move it to a more convenient time of year, like February. I’ll probably never participate again simply because it takes place at the busiest time of the year. Anyway, bon chance to all of you who are participating!

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