Friday, April 14, 2017

Things That Fall From the Sky

This Pillow Book entry is inspired by The Pillow Book of Sei Sh┼Źnagon, translated and edited by Ivan Morris. Sei Sh┼Źnagon was a courtesan in 10th century Japan who kept a diary of the goings-on at court and concealed it in her wooden pillow. She made lists under various categories of specific, often quirky things.

Hand-journaled on March 01, 2017

136. Things that fall from the sky 

Rain, but not often in this dry Oklahoma air. 

A soft mist that envelops warmed skin, kissing cheeks, eyelids.
A moist whisper across waiting lips. 
A foreign taste in the air. 
Breathe it in and a quiver runs up the spine, fluttering the heart. 
An indescribable feeling surges through the blood, firing in the brain, igniting the soul. 
Boiling up through the chest, turning to steam as you exhale a long-held breath. 
Opening your mouth, reaching out with your tongue for one last drop. 
Face upturned, your eyes drift closed, lips tremble, and you finally feel the relief.

Tornadoes. Like they did 20 years ago today in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dropping from a pregnant spring sky and tearing through our communities. Destroying. Mangling. Changing everything. Forever. Crises can mimic the physical storms in our lives: a spinning storm descending into our orderly thoughts and lives. Teeming emotions can beat against our battened hatches, destructive and seemingly unending. Why? Is our world design-less? Arbitrary? Are these physical, emotional, and spiritual crises random? Indiscriminate? Without plan or function?

To answer these questions I created a concept map: A way to order some of my thoughts on a few specific incidents and how they relate to answering this question of Why?

Our physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles may appear to be a spinning storm, but they are not causeless in their destructiveness. Personal and physical storms are not arbitrary and neither are their resulting consequences. Weathering storms creates strength in both nature and in our personal growth, spiritual and emotional. 

Why do we ask why? Is there a higher power, a great designer, a creator that has imbued us with a sense of general curiosity and the need for scientific and self-discovery? If there is do you know Him? Can He bring you through your storms, strengthened and with intent for your physical, emotional, and spiritual growth? 


My eldest son playing among the Golden Bells that my mother and I planted the morning before the Tornadoes tore through our neighborhood. This was 3 years after the fledgling bushes weathered the storm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Please bear with me through another writing exercise as I try to take another step toward writing on a regular basis.  Any feedback or comments would be greatly appreciated.

This exercise involves observing people and writing a quick, but detailed description of individual faces.

1.  Long grayed-blonde hair. Thick cheeks droop, creating two folds that descend from the sunken corners of the mouth. An expressionless mouth. Lips taunt in two straight lines. Sad, tired eyes, magnified behind thick-lensed glasses, the rims of which are made of a cheap beige plastic.

2.  In profile, his rubbery chin protrudes just a breath beyond his nose. Small, dark eyes set deep within their wrinkled sockets. Skin the texture of leather, turned a burnt orange hue by the sun. Tufts of dry, dark hair stick-out from and old black sock hat. One matted tuft encircling each ear and a third wider tuft protruding from the base of his neck. He wears a gruff, but nonthreatening expression.  When his parched lips open, I can see that his his teeth are too small for his mouth.

3. Full and soft. Dark thick lashes, browned eyelids. Pink lips to match the fruity-colored tee. A small pudgy nose draws the other features together like the center button on an overstuffed throw pillow. Eyebrows plucked and shaped into two soft peaks. Hair styled to look like she just rolled out of bed. Wide, bright blue eyes. A hesitation in her smile reveals that she doesn't know she is beautiful.

4.  This one really doesn't fix her hair, unless you count the twisted purple band scooping the fine blonde hair from the nape of her neck. Stray wisps dance around her face. Rosy freckled skin. Pen perched between thin lips. The underlying bones create a high cheek and bluntly-pointed chin. The line of her nose creates a concave surface. Light green eyes seem to blink in slow-motion. Thin. So thin that you wonder who she resembles, before you realize the familiarity is in the skeletal look of her face.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I'm back from a brief hiatus. So a slow way to start is just sharing some connections I've been making lately and hope that they will lead me to writing again. Please feel free to make your own connections and share your thoughts in the comment section.

Jonah was born February 11th, 2011. He's a precious 2 month old baby now. He loves his stars. He stares at them constantly with pure amazement and wonder. It reminds me that there's a whole world to show him and a whole world for me to experience again through the eyes of a child. Right now he mostly stares at them and waits not so patiently for someone to take care of him. It makes me wonder when was the last time I stopped and looked up at the stars with child-like wonder. I'm not the first to marvel at the heavens, nor will I be the last. One of my favorite poets has done the same:

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

180When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;         5
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

I've been reading Psalms lately and God's creation is a mystery to me. I have so many questions and very few answers. What is God's plan for this universe? What are God's plans for my family? How do I fit in to such a grand scheme? A scheme that encompasses all of creation from the stars in the sky to each newborn child:

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

 1 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.
 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
   Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
   your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
   and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
   I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Psalm 139, New International Version, ©2011)


Friday, January 14, 2011

Tess: A Fiction Friday Series V

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #190 for Jan 14th, 2011
Sometimes lies can have serious consequences. Describe a time
when a lie had major consequences for your character.

This series follows the character Tess Masterson. You can catch up by reading the other installments: I, II, III, & IV.

Tess: A Fiction Friday Series V

Tess looked down at the tin plate she was holding: Jane's meat sauce doused with a sparse covering of cracker crumbs. Something in the mixture caught the dim light coming from the single bare bulb. Tess stuck her finger in and pulled out a tiny speck of glass. 

"Come on Kadie. Are you going to pick at it or eat it?" Jane said. The dark circles under Jane's eyes and the way her skin was pulled taut across her cheekbones gave the woman an eerie skeletal look. Tess could see that the woman's patience was wearing thin.

"I'm not hungry." Tess passed the tin plate back through the opening in the bars. "And it's Tess. I haven't been Kadie for almost five years." She squared her shoulders and captured Jane's eyes in a hard stare. The older woman looked away almost immediately. Tess silently reminded herself of the strength she had gained living as Tess Masterson. She wouldn't give it up for anything, certainly not now that she was back under Daddy's roof. She would need it now more than ever.

"Fine, Tess, but if Harry asks you best tell him you cleaned your plate. I'm not taking the blame for you not eating. You can fight your own battles. I'm not gonna. . . "

The sound of tires digging into gravel interrupted Jane's tirade. She turned and hurried back up the basement steps. Tess hobbled back to the small cot, dragging the heavy chain behind her. She sat quietly and listened for the kitchen door to creak open. She finally heard the familiar sound followed by the hard thump of Harry's boots on the linoleum, and then the dull thud of his first step onto the wooden basement stairs. She watched as he ambled down the steps carrying something across his shoulders that looked like an burlap sack. 

Tess couldn't make out what it was until he opened the cage and carefully set his load down on the cold, concrete floor. He quickly slammed the cage shut and replaced the chain and padlock. Tess watched the bundle stir at the sound of metal scraping against metal. She hurried across the room and pulled back the rough fabric. It was a girl. Tess jerked her hand back and immediately felt her pulse begin to speed. The girl was barely conscious and so small. She couldn't be any older than ten. Long brown curls framed her porcelain face and she was dressed in a school uniform similar to the one Tess had worn at that age.

"Brought you a welcome home present, dearie. It's name is Abby." Harry put his hands on his hips and looked at the caged pair with an air of satisfaction.
"What? Why?" Tess couldn't think. All the fear and anger came rushing back. She might as well have been the child lying there instead of the capable adult she had become after escaping and managing on her own. 
"You should know. You're getting too old. Just like Jane."
"Then why'd you come looking for me? I wasn't going to turn you in or anything. I had five years to do that and I didn't. Why not just let me go?"
"You're mine." Harry squatted down and pressed his face up against the bars. "I could never let you go."

Tess could smell his familiar aftershave and she had to concentrate to keep herself from retching. The girl let out a mewing sound.

"You have your uses, Hon. Just like Jane does. For now it's your job to keep Abby calm."
"How am I supposed to do that?"
Harry stood up. His six foot frame towered above both of them.
"You'll do it or I'll come down here and do it myself. Understand?

Harry turned and stomped back up the stairs. Tess watched until she heard the door click closed. When she looked back down she saw the girl, Abby, looking up at her with glassy brown eyes. She scooped her up and carried her to the cot. Tess laid the girl on the thin mattress and then climbed in beside her, enveloping the child in her arms. 

"What's going on?" Abby said. Her voice sounded tired and far away.
"Nothing, sweetie. Go back to sleep. Everything's going to be fine. You're going to be just fine." Tess knew it was a lie. She knew every detail of what Abby's life would become and it wasn't going to be fine. The girl's eyelids drooped closed and her breathing evened out to a steady purr. Tess pulled the burlap sack up over Abby's small body and adjusted her left leg so the chain wouldn't chafe against her ankle.

"Everything's going to be just fine," Tess whispered into the silence.  


Friday, December 31, 2010

Fiction Friday: Anti-Resolutions

This week's [Fiction] Friday:
Anti resolutions.
We have a Time Honoured Tradition to uphold – that of sharing our anti resolutions. See some examples from pervious years below.
What are your top 5 Anti-Resolutions for the coming year?

  1. I will not start some insane diet the moment our new baby is born. So please don't expect to hear me raving or whining about my experiences with the Acai Berry Diet, the HCG Diet, the 17 Day Diet, or any other of the ridiculous fad diets that are featured daily on "The Doctors." I will on the other hand commit to eating more candy. Now that's a resolution I can keep. Why set myself up for failure?
  2. I will watch at least one episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" each day in the hopes of completing all 40 discs in my new Collector's Edition DVD set before the end of the year. I will not feel embarrassed or nerdy or juvenile for doing so. I'll make no apologies for what goes on between me and my portable DVD player in the privacy of my own bed.
  3. I will not have a mini-stroke every time I peek into my 10-year-old son's room. If he knows where everything is, can enjoy his millions of toys, and doesn't brake an ankle getting from the door to his bed, then I will be satisfied that his room is "clean enough." I will. I promise I will.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Choose Your Online Adventure

I've been working with the wonderful folks on the Choose Your Online Adventure (CYOA) collaborative project for a few months now. It's an exciting group of writers and editors with tons of talent, who have all put aside their personal quirks & egos to create a magnificent story. (I'll be the first to acknowledge that this is not an easy task)

The first series, History's Keeper, is due online in January 2011 with the paperback version due out later that year. I'm super excited to see some of my work in print and even more excited to have signed a contract with an amazing publishing company, officially making me a writer.

If your interested in joining the project or just checking out the work you can follow the link to

For a taste of what's to come in this first series you can read my teaser story "Villa di Pratolino." While you're there also check out  "Shore Leave" by the lovely Annie Evett.

This project has been a challenge and a blessing and I can hardly wait to begin working on the next series. Writing starts in February 2011 and without giving away too much information I can say that there will be charming Southern drawls, dusty sprawling countrsides, and I'm hoping to work in a set of spurs.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fiction Friday #181: Mt. Pleasant

This week's [Fiction] Friday prompt:  Utilise the T.S.O.D – a NaNoWriMo tradition. The rules are simple. In your story,  kill someone. With a shovel. Read more F.A.Qs here.

Mt. Pleasant

Parker shoved open the door with his shoulder. He struggled with his load. The large duffle was just the right size. The strap dug into his left shoulder and he shifted it again, letting the blood rush back into the gouge it was making in his skin. He walked down the dimly-lit corridor, passing the other storage units. He stopped in front of the one marked 347, let the bag drop to the concrete floor, and fished in his jacket pocket for the key ring.

Parker scanned the hallway. He had assumed the place would be empty at this hour and he was right. What business would anyone have at Mt. Pleasant Store It at two in the morning? Unless they were in his kind of business. Not many were. Especially not the homespun residents of this sleepy community.

The whole scene struck him as rather quaint. The tree-lined streets, the old homes with wide porches, the occasional porch swing squeaking in the breeze. He’d been watching the town for a few weeks. The whole place just shut off around nine at night. The corner grocery closed up and it was lights out in the safe town. Folks didn’t even lock their doors. Made his job easier.

Even the storage facility had an old-timey feel. It was situated next to the train tracks in an old brick building. From the faded sign atop the three story building, Parker gathered it used to be a factory of some sort. The dark corridors were lit by intermittent bare bulbs dangling from rusty chains. The garage style doors were painted a dingy blue that had chipped and cracked over the years. It was a surreal experience this job, nothing like stalking the dank city streets, navigating crowds of vagabonds and degenerates in an effort to remain anonymous.

Here the people made a point of greeting him with phrases like “mornin’ neighbor” and “how’s it goin’?” When he had happened upon his quarry while staking out her home, she had looked up from the herbs she was tending to flash him a friendly smile and ask him how he liked the change in weather. She wasn’t even suspicious of a strange man prowling around her back yard. She just struck up a conversation.

“You must be Mr. Williams. Welcome to the neighborhood.”
“Sure am.” Parker thought quickly.

She strained to get up from the stool she was sitting on, dusted off her dirt-covered hands, and reached a hand out in front of him. Parker took the wrinkled hand and marveled at the tight grip. She’d been out of the game long enough to let her guard down, but he wasn’t taking anything for granted. He knew this was his chance. The two were alone in her yard, surrounded by fruit trees and other plants, under the cover of dusk. He saw the shovel leaning against the trellis.

“The change in weather is nice. It’s been such a hot summer. Don’t you think?”
“A real steamer.”
“One might wonder what brings a man like you out of the city.”
“Just a job, ma’am.”
“I figured. Well then. What do you think of our little town? It’s no big city, now is it?”
“Not in the least, ma’am.”

She turned her back to him, knelt in front of the herbs, and resumed her pruning. He heard her laughter as he swung the heavy shovel. The metal blade made a resounding thud against her skull. She fell forward into the garden, dropping a sprig of rosemary she had just plucked. Parker waited for her left foot to stop twitching before he tossed the shovel aside and made his way back to his car for the duffle. The streets were empty and only a few houses on the block still had porch lights on. He thought it must be getting close to nine. With all those friendly neighbors down for the night, he’d have plenty of time to clean the mess, dispose of the body, and finally get the hell out of this creepy place.