(photo from my book Cancer Calls Collect and artwork by Diana Ani Stokley)
Apr. 20th, 2010 at 2:15 PM
It’s still dark out as I slowly open my eyes and hear the rain pound down on the skylight. I adjust my legs into a fetal position and pull the blankets up around my chin. Listening to the rain reminds me of sitting in my grandmother’s orange wooden rocking chair on the verandah decades ago. Protected in the centre of a screened off porch every rain storm would produce goosebumps on my arms. My senses aroused by the rain and cool breeze would encourage me to sit there and rock until she would bring me out a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Only then would reality set in and my love and hate relationship with water would become front and centre once again.
I can remember standing at the end of a poorly built wooden pier at Selby Lake and my mother scolding me for looking down at the water. She told me quite sincerely that if I looked too long I would fall in. There was beauty in the reflection of the water, yet there was danger. Weeks ago I stared at the dilapidated Berkeley Pier that was once 3 miles long into the Bay and remembered what she said. I shudder as I envision myself sitting precariously on the edge of one of the decaying pieces of the pier. Sitting almost in the middle of the Bay my legs start to tingle with joy and fright.The joy of being alone with waves lapping at my toes, yet fear in trying to find a solution to get back to safety.
Time to get up and the rain is still coming down. All I want to do is lay there, listen and dream that I am back in the protection of my Grandmother. I pull my legs out of the fetal position I am still in and become the woman I am now. Rain represents cleansing and purification, and as daylight breaks light shines in my life once more. I put on my slippers that a few drips from the skylight have made damp. I pour myself a warm cup of hot chocolate and once again I fall back in time. In my mind my feet are dangling off a pier and as my look lingers too at the water long I fall in. A hand grabs my arm and I am pulled to safety. My late Mother’s voice pierces loudly through my thoughts,
“I told you if you looked at that water too long you would fall in !”
I am safe for yet another day.
December 15, 2006 1:43 am
I can’t remember how old I was when I began to watch Charlie Brown Christmas programs. All I know is at the age of 66 I can still quote a lot of the text from the TV shows with tears in my eyes, and now my Grandkids watch them.
Charlie Brown reminds me of a lot of friends I walked through life with. They were never sure which road to take, and then when they did; they still questioned it. However, Pig-Pen didn’t care if anyone brought him down because of his constant lingering smell and trailing dust. Each Christmas Pig-Pen reaffirmed that:
It is okay if you just don’t smell right some days.
It is okay to sit around with dirty hair and pajamas too.
It is okay to be silent and okay to be not.
It is okay to not join a crowd.
It is okay to treat your home like a dust magnet sometimes.
It is okay to drag some of your perpetually messy past life around as long as it just becomes a pile of dust behind you.
What if today we didn’t get our tinsel in a tangle and we were just grateful for everything this Christmas? Look up at the sky and stop eating those December snowflakes. Remember how great life is this Holiday season, and maybe just save them for January.
This is a true story- Filed under Linda’s Dark Dreadful Tales series. Any resemblance to someone you know, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
It was almost midnight as Glenda surveyed her freezer. She had been sick for days and worried she might fall into a permanent sleep by morning. According to most of the expiry dates on her food she should have been buried years ago. What really irked her were the the directions found on almost any chilled food: “once opened, eat within 3 days”. She never threw food out- her daughter kept saying at some point it crawled out on its own and over to the garbage can.
What kind of person would she be remembered as if she died over night and someone looked in her freezer? She took out a package of bacon from the freezer that was dated 2009. She cooked it up, and thought, “I’m still alive here”! So much for “1 month” – try “5 years”! Glenda had also been freezing milk for as long as she could remember and never had a drop that was lumpy, or had to sit for a few days after being thawed.
Of course her food looked like it could be on an episode of “Hoarders”–and some of it could start its own penicillin farm. She looked at the wilted green lettuce that looked like a smoothie and noticed she could tie the carrots/celery in a knot.
Her daughter had told her a million times that when things turn green or black, or if the Tupperware cover popped off by itself, that’s the time to throw things out. Maybe she should just give up upon life before the New Year came in– after all she had noticed the box of Arm & Hammer was now waving a white flag.
February 24, 2011, 11:01 PM
The year 1963 was a year that none of us should ever forget. I already had suffered a loss on September 27th when my mother Bernice Crittenden Knight died from lymphoma at the age of 34. The months that followed were not happy ones for me, but no one could have prepared us for what was to happen on November 22nd of that same year.
I will always remember the somber words of our principal Mr. Bowen on the intercom Friday, November 22, 1963. He announced to the students of Cowansville High School that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, had been assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.
Where were you in school when you heard that JFK died?
From what should have been a tight well-remembered incident, it somehow turned into confusion and memory loss for me today, and the question should have been:
“Do you have any clue where you approximately were on November 22, 1963?”
In thinking about that day in school I remember my two good friends John and Judy from years ago. John’s father had written some sort of book about President Kennedy, and I had no clue who his father was and frankly never asked. Later I found out that John’s father was William Manchester who had written “The Death of a President”. The book was published in 1967 by Harper and Row and became one the great American Classics. Seeing that my likes consist of celebrities, Madonna, and Sweet Valley High I brushed it all off. All I knew was that my friends that I called “Muse and his Musette” were great people and we could discuss the world of writing and the hamburger chain IN N’ Out Burger like Olympic champions.
Last week John wrote a blog about his father and how he spent 95% of his time locked away writing :The Death of a President”. For 15 hours a day, 7 days a week he conducted over 1000 interviews to write about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I read the blog three times, rolled my chair back, and began to think about my daily writings.
Am I obsessed in my work ethic like William Manchester? Am I a writer now? Even with 6 published books– I will forever be a blogger and will never become even close to becoming a great writer like William Manchester– but I do know one thing. I have figured out that I can tell stories with my words just like the folks that sat around the pickle barrel a long time ago, and actually, I am quite content with that.
John Manchester was a real writer and his words made a difference to me and everyone else—and that my friends is what it is all about in the very end; to be able to write well enough to make a difference in someone’s life. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
“To be anymore than all I am would be a lie” –Marty Balin
You can read my friend John Manchester’s view about Lunch with Linda – Love on Haight Street below
Lunch with Linda – Love on Haight Street
As promised, Mrs. Muse and I shared lunch with Linda Seccaspina at Magnolia Pub on Haight Street. She has already offered her lovely account. Due to my nature, mine is more prosaic. Ah well.
The food was great. The company was better.
I have been privileged from time to time to meet people whose work I admire. They fall into two camps. In the first are artists who are a letdown to meet. Whatever spark in their work has opened my eyes, ears or heart is nowhere in sight once I meet them. They seem cold, closed, uptight. Maybe they are just shy in public. But I wonder if it isn’t something else – that it’s only through their art that they can allow a part of themselves to flower.
In the second camp are artists whose work is a natural extension of their lives. Meeting these people I watch what was just notes, colors or words blossom into a life. It feels good.
Linda falls firmly in the second camp. We recognized her across Haight Street (her hair is very red!) standing in front of the Magnolia Pub. She smiled and we ran across the street and Linda who loves to “rate with hugs” gave us big non-virtual hugs.
Linda gets right to the point with her writing – that point being to express emotion. Not to vent, or to whine, but to make us feel what she clearly feels so strongly – joy, anger, sadness. She minces no words in nailing those who deserve to be nailed and praising where praise is deserved. And she’s funny as hell.
Behind all of those feelings she expresses her anchor feeling. LOVE.
She sat before us and I watched all those words I’d read transform into the person who radiated that love.
We had much in common – two sons, nasty exes followed by the miracle of current keepers. Less than perfect parents. Linda has been dealt a lot of junk from the bottom of the deck, dealt with her share of jokers. But she’s made a fine hand of it.
Linda told us of someone she knows who’s very religious who likes to tell Linda she’s not going to make it to heaven. Linda refers to this artfully as “going to the beach.” As far as I can tell she’s already there, as much as any of us get.
She surprised me with gifts, saying she liked the bottles. I like them too, which is why I post them here: I’m sure they will be even more enjoyable once we uncork them.
I first came to Haight Street the summer of 1970. Mrs. Muse got there earlier, though she can’t remember the year (!) We both had the same experience – of looking on every corner for something that wasn’t there, that had gone, or never been there in the first place.
What were we seeking? Little things. Joy. Peace. Enlightenment. Above all, LOVE.
We finally found it in each other. And we found it yesterday, finally, on Haight Street.
Linda wore a great big heart: Not as big as the one inside.
June 23, 2005 11:56 Pm
Years ago on a shuttle bus from LAX to a hotel in Burbank, California I met a woman I will call Lola. One might call her a real piece of work, but I thought she was something else. She was one of those women in the music business you read about, and she had climbed to the top very successfully.
We were both going to the same Heavy Metal music convention: she to managed rock stars, and I was going to do local radio interview remotes. I have no idea why she decided to stick to me like glue, but she did. During the bus ride to the hotel she rattled off top rock star names like it was a grocery list. I really had nothing to offer her in that vein of conversation except for being friends with a few local bands.
She was currently dating a gorgeous guy who was the opening act of an iconic singer that was and still is a household name. I heard endless stories in those 4 days of how she loved him, and how much he adored her. In fact they had just recently gotten engaged. In between the endless conversations she provided filler stories of an affair with a very married New Jersey rock star and making mental reminder notes to exchange a purse given to her by a TV personality. We had a blast that weekend, and I just followed her around watching her work her magic. To tell you the truth it was almost like being in a reality show.
I finally met the fiancé and he told me stories about the famous singer he opened for. There were tales of how the first five rows of patrons were informed nightly they were not allowed to go to the bathroom while the performance was on. If they did, it might throw the stars singing off. Personally I thought her fiancé was a jerk, and when she asked me if I liked him I just didn’t know what to say.
During the four day stay we rented a car and split the cost from Dollar Car Rental. She told me that her fiancé had to rent a car from there often because he could not afford to buy one. Of course Lola was upset he was going on tour soon, because she said she didn’t trust him.
Monday came soon enough and we dropped the car off at the rental place. We made sure we had left nothing in the back seat, and upon gathering some belongings I found a roll of film in the crack of the back seat of the car. I started to laugh and asked her if it was hers. She shook her head and I said,
“Fine, I will take it and get it developed. I bet it might have some risque shots or something.”
Let it be known that I literally said this as a joke.
Two weeks later I found the film at the bottom of my purse and decided I might as well develop it as I was curious. A few days later I picked up the pictures and started to look through them.
To my shock and amazement I saw shots of her finance Larry with with a variety of strange women in precarious poses. These were no touristy shots either. This was a real “hot damn” selection of pictures. I called her long distance and told her what I had seen. The line became silent and then five words were screamed at full volume.
“Express them to me tomorrow!”
So I did.
It seems that the fiancé had rented that very same car the week before and Dollar Car Rental wasn’t called Dollar Car Rental for nothing. They had shirked their cleaning duties and missed the roll of film that was found in the back seat.
Last I heard from Lola, the fiancé had been dumped and she was working on another rock star. This was most certainly a stranger in my life that I would never ever forget— or Dollar Car Rental either.
“What happened to you after that particular newspaper picture was taken of you?
Did you have some sort of mental breakdown?”
I looked at him and laughed and told him it was nothing but aging. I most certainly was not built by Madame Tussaud and as Carrie Fisher once said,
“I didn’t know when I was 20 and adorable that I’d signed a contract to look that way for the rest of my life”.
What are we pretending not to know? I’m not overweight? I am overweight. I’d rather claim it. Then it has less power over you. This way you don’t have anything on me. Better to have the good news out there with it. No matter what– own it!
January 23, 2006
I decided I wanted to write something light today, so all I could think of was the wild life that used to run around our yard back in Cowansville. Yes, fowl and other small creatures would rise and shine each morning as the grandparents had a thing for fresh meat. They would raise the odd rabbit or duck and then tell me that the animals had run away when we ate them. It meant nothing that they could buy the whole meat department at the local grocery store, but having a few small creatures in the back yard like the Beverley Hillbillies was their thing.
The house sat about 3 blocks from the Canadian Pacific and National railroad line on South Street.The train went by every few hours, and to say it was loud was an understatement. In the dead of night you could hear the train engineer blow his whistle long and loud just to spite everyone. Well, that is what my Grandfather said.
Grampy loved roosters, and one particular rooster was loud and proud. At the crack of dawn he would cocka doodle doo for about 30 minutes. Frankly, he was just awful. One summer morning at 6 am he began his calls. Grampy got up, yelled at him and told him to shut up. Of course the rooster didn’t give a rats ass about what my Grandfather was hollering out the window, and in fact, it inspired him to be even louder. Three times my Grandfather hung his head out of the second floor window and bellowed again for him to keep quiet.
When the rooster got louder Grampy decided it was time to pay him a visit. He took the broom and banged it on the side of the cage. Charm never made a rooster, so the bird tried to attack him. It was like a WWE wrestling match out there– a lot of noise from the rooster, and a lot of banging from Grampy. The neighbour across the way began yelling at the rooster and my Grandfather. All of a sudden I heard stomping under the window where the hose was kept. I thought to myself–oh no he wouldn’t, but I heard the water come on full force.
First the rooster got it, and then the water shot up in the air and hit the neighbours house full force. I couldn’t stop laughing. Here was a man who could sleep through a barrage of “iron roosters” coming down the rails, but he just couldn’t handle this live bird. Needless to say the rooster should have thought about his actions, as one day you can be a rooster, and the next a feather duster.
Always dress like it’s the Best Day of Your Life
It’s Saturday once again, and this week has been off the charts with being busy. Yesterday, I helped Waterside Retirement Community raise money for The Lanark County Food Bank, and being Linda, I changed my outfit twice on my shift from 1030 to 230. This is nothing for me, and if you are going to raise money you just can’t sit there. By 4:30 Pm gossip was already at the IDA Pharmacy in town about how I changed my outfit twice. Let it be known I have no shame— absolutely none. LOLOL
Today I am ringing the bell at Walmart, and because many people run by you– you need to make them stop. I thought about playing spoons which I get from my Quebecquoise heritage – but not enough. Just not enough to get people to give money.
I got up at 7am, and Steve, like last week, put on my socks, black cotton thigh highs this week due to my elderly consistency of going barefoot. So what was I going to wear? Harlee Quinn red cocktail dress? Cruella DeVille or an Ursuala from the Little Mermaid outfit? Nope. So finally after an hour I chose a Betsey Johnson dress with a matching Cruella DeVille 1920s style coat. I start going up the stairs to take a shower, turn it on, and realize if I take a shower the stockings have to come off and how am I going to get them back on? Sorry peeps, I might stink today LOLOL
After doing the best I can to clean up I put the dress on and think it looks odd. Why is it longer in the front than the back, and do the snaps go in the front or back. Major dilemma here which must be solved by going online and looking at the dress. Okay snaps in front and the reason it’s shorter in the back is because my caboose is so big.
Hat next….one too small.. One does not match-but have no fear, among my 159 hats I have made I will find the one. I was going to wear the swan hat, and this swan hat is basically a white swan on top of my head, but thought it was still too close to the end of hunting season. So the feathered Flower Drum Song hat will do. And… how is your day so far? Be fabulous ladies and gents, as remember, your only limit is your mind….and always go with your first option LOLOL