My Musical Life in 31 Days

I’m going to attempt to write a post a day for the month of October, detailing my fascination and love of music.

Music is second only in my life to writing/reading (I group reading and writing together). In fact, I think music has enhanced my writing and reading life, which is what I hope to explain more as the month will go on. From how jazz has influenced my poetry, to how country songs convey romance and heartbreak. The poetry of music has played (no pun intended) a huge part in my writing life.

My parents introduced music into my life from the first I can remember. We were always asking for Mom to turn the radio on (me at about 2) when we were in the car. Records went on the minute my father was out the door and off to work in the morning. Music was part of being a Christian, from hymns at church to Christian children’s records as I was growing up.

I grew up when records and vinyl records were still in fashion despite compact discs becoming more popular. I listened to records at my grandparents when they would babysit. The old records that were my father’s and uncles’. I first learned about Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and that glorious woman in the whipped cream dress from my grandparents. How scandalous at the age of 6. I mean, she was a well endowed woman in a whipped cream dress!

Stereos and boomboxes of the 90s became my introduction into what I thought was pop music, but turned out to be late 70s classics and early 80s light rock. (Light Rock Less Talk, Sunny102 FM….. ah yes, I knew my station well. Right out of California’s central valley). These also made it possible for my first mix-tapes. Which eventually led to mix cds and now to mp3 playlists.

The delayed love of boy bands, slowly finding myself and what I really liked, mp3 players and online music. I have lived my life full of music. To this day I still consume music, always hunting for new things and having current fascinations that take me off on a tangent of styles. The rap years (which were few) the jazz period (current that has flabbergasted my family), the pop years, which have continued depending on how good the summer pop season is. If I had my druthers, I’d have music on all day long. My family would go nuts, but I would if I owned my own house. A perpetual shuffled playlist that went all day, yes, I would be quite happy with that.

So for the 31 days of October, you will get to live my life of music. I hope you enjoy, and I would love to have people’s (reader’s) likes and dislikes. Comment up the wazoo. On this post, on any post. Heck, every post. What kind of music do you like?

Kate

 

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Comfort Zones

Photo by Owen CL on Unsplash

Just the other day I was off to see one of my doctors, a three hour drive away. Now I love this doctor. he is a dream, he is so sweet, nice, good at what he does, good looking…. married. <– Total bummer.

Anyways, one think that I have found over the years is I need comfort zones and surprisingly, I don’t need much to put me in it. For the doctor’s visit, all I needed was one of my favorite shirts, a necklace and a pair of earrings. That was it! Granted, my metal crow feather necklace is pretty unique and I use it lots of Saturdays when I write. It’s kind of my statement piece of jewelry. My earrings were my ‘silver’ square columns that are about  two inches long and a quarter of an inch wide. They have heft. They are cool. They are not silver despite ebay saying they were, but I love them anyhow. They give me comfort.

I have comfort books too. Those books you know you need to take with you even if you don’t ever plan to read it, but you know you could pick it up in a flash and you are okay. For me it’s my paperback copy of Here Comes the Sun by Emilie Loring (there Patty, I’ve mentioned EL after a dry spell of not bringing her up at all!) That book will always make my life more relaxed. Sometimes I put it in my purse (it’s more of a bag) even if I have another book or two in there just because I want that comfort zone. I know, weird, but I always take too many books with me, especially to doctor’s visits. This last week I took three books and my kindle… which has a ton of books on it.

Another comfort author is Janet Dailey’s Americana series. The books are short ish and I have almost the entire paperback collection.

I have comfort zones in my house. Sitting on the couch on the front porch, being in the blueberry plants, my chair at the kitchen table that can be pushed back to sit over the wall heater in the winter.  I have comfort clothes; that perfect pair of jeans, certain shirts, a purse I love, even socks! Gotta have a comfy pair of socks.

I gravitate towards turquoises and coral pinks for my comfort colors. Colors are a huge comfort zone thing that most people don’t even realize they have. First off, did you know that your eye color is going to determine your comfort color? Most people with aqua colored eyes, will pick that tone, or variations of that tone and wear it, or want to decorate with it. Same for blue eyes, hazel, brown. Take a look at what you would pick in an instant as your comfort color. I bet it’s close to your eye color.

Music is a huge part of comfort zones for me. There are songs that I can always turn on and just sink right into it. I keep a lot of those on my mp3 player for when I go somewhere and need a pick me up. Currently Miles Davis’ ‘Nature Boy’ has become a huge favorite. But I have had all kinds of comfort zones.

I think even in our writing we step into a comfort zone at times when we just need to write. I ramble and make short fragment statements, puttering with word sounds and rhymes or assonance. Or is it alliteration? One or the other. It just happens. I the we default back to comfort zones and what makes us feel ‘grounded’ more often than not.

I’m curious what other people find to be comfort zones. Do you have clothes you just have to wear every time you go somewhere? My friend Dona in the writing group always wears her Jane Austen ring (reproduction) and her owl earrings. I try to always have a certain pen. Some people need a specific water bottle when they go out.

What is your comfort zone? And do you need it to write?

Even the picture I used for this post is a comfort zone. Leaves in the early fall when they days are still warm but are changing…. oh yeah, the entire fall is a comfort zone.

Kate

Truths About How Hard Writing Is

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Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

 

Hello, dearies. Sorry, this blog has been a bit bleak this summer. It’s been rather chaotic and I have spent more time writing in my notebook than writing online. (my book review company, BookLookBloggers) finally said, that’s it, you do not have an account with us because you are not blogging or reviewing enough…. My bad.

So I have been focusing on writing my poetry for weeks now; months. I had read that Ada Limon needed just a few more poems for her new book. I can’t say when it was that I read that. Somewhere on her Twitter account a while ago, and I totally get that feeling. I have a 62-page manuscript right now, and technically that’s all I have to have for the publication that I plan to submit to, but I’m not stopping. I feel like once I started focusing solely on poetry, the floodgates opened for the most part.

Poetry doesn’t always come. I struggle sometimes with getting anything out and when I go to my writing group sometimes I sit there for 45 minutes while everyone else is writing and at the end I have maybe started or dabbled in something but the response is “I got nothing.” I have weird blocks where I have all these ideas and I start an idea, or ten, but it never goes anywhere. Recently I had something in my head about being in a western bar and I was just kind of blanked out on that. Partly because I don’t go to western bars. I stay in at night. Drinking coffee.

But last night one of our new breweries was having live music and I have been meaning to get up and have a pint, so I went up. It was technically a total waste of my time because the music wasn’t clear enough to hear, though the tunes were good, and the brewer’s own brew was out….. And I only visited with people in my parent’s age… Pardon the complaining… But the blip of time I was there drinking a porter gave me a few lines to get me over the hump of what I’m writing. It was good research even if that wasn’t the reason I had gone. Sometimes it’s the funniest things that help switch the storyline.

I have a story I started writing a couple of years ago about kid friends who meet later on in life and it was a struggle to get anywhere with it till I had a dream last year that changed the whole narrative. Now it’s actually got a place to go.

I was reading an article last night; The 8 Hard Truths All Aspiring Writer’s Must Accept Despite The Pain. One paragraph explained how we chisel out and poke, prod and eek out the right line, the best sentence, the perfect way to say something. Poetry for me is that. I sit there sometimes and I’ll write a line and go, okay, this isn’t bad, but after reading it over and over you know it just isn’t right.

I wrote a poem in regards to Jack Kerouac the other day and I was really happy with it, but one line kept irking me and I couldn’t figure out why. In the line

‘Lost boy, did all the stars fall down and burn out?’ where the word fall is, I had the word come and it was nice, but it wasn’t just the right thing. Why such a simple word change makes a difference I don’t know, but it does. This is where I get why other poets say trimming the fat on poetry is hard. You have so little to work with that it really is a challenge and a struggle. Does it come more easy to me? Sure, but that doesn’t make writing poetry easy.

I have taken to writing longer narrative type poems, introducing a character that is the writer for the poem, not me, and seriously, one poem takes the oomph out of me for days. It takes days to write it, but afterwards, I’m kind of wandering around feeling like I have run a marathon. Sometimes I only write one poem a week.

This writing thing comes easy to me, but it’s still hard. If that is one thing I could tell nonwriters it’s that. You may think being a writer is glamorous, and there are times when you get an accolade from a friend or colleague and it’s a nice boost, but all those other times when you are in the dark, pounding, scribbling, or fighting to get it out it’s gosh darn hard. Would I give it up? No, but sometimes I wonder where my sanity lies and I wonder if I will ever make it.

Everyone says I will, but that self-doubt… well it’s a doozy.

Read the article, because it’s pretty cool in its succinctness.

Kate

 

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Happily Homemade – A Review

We all know that the best meals are the ones that are prepared with love. In Happily Homemade by Rachel Schultz  gives us 100 unique recipes to help you get past the dreaded feeling of what to make for dinner.  With stunning pictures that make you need to make everything, this book separates the recipes into catagories: Breakfasts with recipes such as Pumpkin and Pecan Baked Oatmeal, Blueberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast, and Herbed Mini Quiches (oh yummmm!); Snacks and Appetizers ( Carrot Bread, Apple Cookies, Loaded Skillet Fries, Almond and Pear Baked Brie, to name a few); Entrees (BLT Pizza, Chicken Lo Mein, Barley Vegetable Bowl, Fajita Grilled Cheese, and Ham and Swiss Hand Pies….. and much much more); and finally Desserts! ( Cherry Cake Bars, Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake, Coconut Macaroons, Nanny’s Rice Pudding, six kinds of frosting for various cakes…… drool some more).  There are spice mix recipes, a gluten free index for the book, and lots of tips and gorgeous recipes. The recipes are normal, extravagant, and just drool worthy in description or pictures.

I love this book, though I should mention that most of it I wouldn’t make for my immediate family due to not being quite as adventureous as I am. However, if I lived on my own, this would probably be something I would want to try out almost everything, though I did find some of the recipes like the rice pudding and the baked oatmeal, made more than I would eat on my own. Plus they are a tad too much to try out a recipe in small amounts. But most everything is a common flavor from good home cooking to Mexican, Asian and more. The variations alone make it fun. If anything, this book is one that is just lovely to look at. I myself actually read cookbooks for pleasure, not just for cooking. Who said you have to cook just because there are recipes? I read Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) cookbooks all the time and have only made about three recipes from her various books.

This book is functional for some and not for others. If you like stunning pictures and recipes that will make you want to hop into your car and get to the nearest market, then this is the book. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars, actually 4.5 because it’s such a nice hardback book. Well done.

Kate

Current Poetry Reads and Consuming Poetry

My lovely friend Dona has told me I am the poet tender in our writing group, while another person is her poet tender in her other group. I take that as high praise as, while I adore poetry, don’t feel I am that well versed in it. However, I seem to be the one collecting the poetry books and reading the poetry, and currently, reading, writing and consuming poetry. So maybe I am.   I am far from being an expert, which my father says is a has been drip under pressure…. get it? Ex and a spurt?… haha, your joke for the day.  Anyways, I don’t know most forms, though I can give you some basic, and I don’t do meter or metre… whichever one it is…… and I can barely do rhyming schemes. I try, I really do, but I’m best at free verse. I can’t even do blank verse very well, though I have tried. For those who don’t know, blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter.

As a poetry writing, reading, consuming whatever, I am currently consuming poetry. I’m reading it daily and hourly and weekly. I went on a poetry ordering binge in my library recently. After receiving those books, I binged again. I can only order ten books at a time. Ten! Who thought that up? Writers need more than the ten books they can order. I need to order at least twenty things at all times. And I only can have twenty things out at one time. Seriously, this library system up here needs to know how writers work! But I seriously digress.  So I have been consuming poetry at every point of the day. I should mention that I am also listening to a lot of music that has marvelous lyrics, which is poetry. The jazz doesn’t count, as it’s all instrumental, but seriously, Miles Davis is a poet with his horn. Oh, gosh I could swoon.

Here is a current list of what I have read and am reading.

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon. I can’t say enough about that book other than I swoon.

 

Patient Zero by Tomas Q. Morin.  This guy has become my newest favorite, not to mention a muse in a poem.

 

Elegy for a Broken Machine : poems by Patrick Phillips.  Quirky, irreverent, spot on.

 

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald.  Strange enough to make me cringe, but I like it.

 

Essential Bukowski : poetry by Charles Bukowski.  This guy is certainly edgy. But I like it. A lot.

 

Catalog ofUunabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay.  Unique and kind of edgy and sing songy and and and…

 

The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall.  I haven’t quite decided if I like these or not. Some yes, some no.

 

So these are just a sampling of what I have out. I actually have a couple more, but I don’t like them. At all. So I won’t be mean and list the authors. I also haven’t listed the three Billy Collins books I recently took back, because, well I have raved about the man enough, haven’t I? And I have a stack of more books coming soon, I hope. So, happy reading time. Overwhelming reading sometimes.  I think my writing is changing. For the better I hope.

What are some poetry books you recommend? Or authors you like. I love getting recommendations because, well, I’m consuming it!

Kate

The Dog -Eared Snapshots

old photo weary.jpgI’ve been rushing around trying to write more poetry and discard this and that from my manuscript. I chucked most of my sonnets because I felt they didn’t fit, which in turn, dropped my poetry count from 52 to only 40. I was pretty discouraged as I did that, realizing that I had to figure out more poems to add. Then I started typing up some poetry from the last few Saturday writing groups. I got a couple I really like, and in turn, I also found the title of my manuscript!  Exciting things. Due to one poem with a line in it I really like, I came up with Dog-Eared Snapshots. I’m really happy with the title and the poem. Though technically the poem isn’t done because my writing group said to not edit the poem, I did and I like the edited version better because it has a rhyming scheme.

Oh well, you can’t please everyone, but I do want to get some input from a couple friends first. But I have a title. Now to just get quite a few more poems. I keep stressing about the manuscript, worrying I’m not good enough. And stressing that I won’t get it all ready in time for September, what with how fast the summer is already advancing. But each new poem brings one more sigh of relief. Whew! One more down.

So onward adding to the dog-eared manuscript. 🙂

Kate

Drowning in Poetry

I think the title of this post is overly dramatic, and while it might sound negative, drowning in writing poetry has actually been really good for me. I have stuck strictly to writing poetry for the past several weeks due to my ambitious plans to submit in the fall, though I have to admit, meeting someone who has made my life a whole lot brighter, has helped continue on with the poetry theme. It doesn’t take much to write at least one line of poetry, but a whole one that is decent is another matter. I have this personal opinion that you need to be in a relationship, coming out of one, just starting one, or directly relating to one to write good poetry. This is just my own personal opinion and what works for me. Some of my best poetry came from my angst with Boris.

Lord that man made me crazy. Still does sometimes.

I think the emotional aspect of another person, be it lover, mother, father, sibling, uncle, friend, etc. relationships mold one’s writing. And the connection with another person makes poems powerful. Sure,  you can write about inanimate objects, Mary Oliver comes to mind with her nature poetry, but it’s still a personal connection to the world. Reading Ada Limon lately, there are so many personal connections with people in her work, that you see the emotional aspect.

So for me, some of my best work has come out of angst, be it in a relationship or out of one.  I was never in a personal relationship with Boris, though I love the man dearly. He just caused a lot of turmoil in my life. Not being in a relationship with Boris caused a lot of turmoil in my life. Ha ha. Ha ha. I’m conflicted, I know.

Currently, while it hasn’t cropped up much, a new relationship, or the promise of one, has boosted my poetry. In the fall it was a hope that I might be with someone that now I could just murder. Those poems from the fall, while good, and I like them, annoy the heck out of me because I can’t stand the person from the fall. I mean, if I could legally hit him over the head…. I should probably be careful, the government is watching…

Well new possibilities, whom we will name Danny Boy at this point, are improving upon my writing. So while drowning in poems might be a weird good thing to say, I am writing as much as I can, when I can.

I should also add that music plays a huge role in writing poetry for me. Maybe because it is all poems as well, set to music, that I gravitate towards it. I listen to music as much as I can, and a lot of it can bring up feelings and thoughts that keep me writing away. Currently, Drake’s ‘One Dance’ and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” are churning out a lot of thoughts.

What about you other poets? Do you find relationships or music improve upon your poetry writing?

And just because I’m in a good mood, here are some poetry prompts I’ve found on Pinterest, where you can follow my board at daydreamwriting. Okay, these aren’t specifically ‘prompts’, but they do conjure up poem ideas.

Kate

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Entering Into Poetry Manuscript Crazy Feeling

I had a brilliant idea two weeks ago. I am going to collect my poetry into a manuscript for submitting in the fall.

Cue crickets chirping and questioning looks.

I get it. Even I’m sitting here thinking, ‘wow I’m ambitiously optimistic.’ Considering I’ve only ever submitted my poetry to Writer’s Digest Poem A Day things. I’ve never sent my poetry out into the world. I have designs on doing that. I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. But after reading Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon, I looked at the publisher and thought I would look them up. Then I found out they have open submissions for 60-page manuscripts in September.  I have four months to get a manuscript together. So far I have 33 decent poems. (I undervalue all of my writing) All unpublished, all unsubmitted except for Writer’s Digest. Even I’m not sure if I’m crazy or not.

Yes, I doubt myself all the time. I know I enjoy my own poetry, but everyone enjoys their own poetry. I think that’s a given. If you don’t like your own, well… I can’t help you. Really. I have enough issues with my own. I think it all stems from comparing myself to what I consider, great writers. Ada Limon is my new favorite (though I’ve been reading her for a year) along with my standards of Billy Collins.  I should probably stop raving about him. I have poetry books I feel I need, but all are pricier than I can afford after splurging recently and getting my dog his painkillers (talking pricey) The splurge was not the painkillers. 😛

Anyways, I compare myself to ‘great writers’ thinking that I’m ho hum. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. My writing group is fantastic about listening to my poetry. I think I have found my ‘voice’ so to speak (haha) in regards to style. And I’ve only just started getting comfortable with not always being nice in my poetry. I’ve started swearing some, because sometimes you just need to use the word ‘fuck’ and it fits. Sometimes you just have to swear.

Getting to the raw aspect of poetry is the challenge too. Maybe that’s why while I like Mary Oliver‘s poetry, it’s too pretty for my tastes. This coming from someone that likes to write nature poetry. But she’s just not my thing at the point. Hence Ada Limon; or Clint Smith, though I don’t have his book yet. If you click this link, you can read his poem My Jump Shot. It’s down a few poems. I heard him read it recently when he spoke with Billy Collins at Drake University.  Oh. My. Gosh. I love it. (coming from a girl who did not have a single sports gene in her.)

I think this is also why I don’t write a lot of rhyming poetry. It’s too pretty, so to speak when it comes to angst. Or at least in my opinion. That and really, rhyming poetry is freaking hard sometimes.

Just ask my sonnet months. Le Sigh.

Anyways, I am ‘hard’ at work compiling poetry. Some of it is from my November PAD submission, but most are from my poetry filling up all of my notebooks, spilling out and not having a place to go. Who knew I had so much floating around. I keep coming upon more poems and it’s like a mini Christmas thrill. “Ooh, I found another one!”

So, there’s my week. Another week putting off the novel I started, which got all of about 20 pages into a comp book, at the most. Thankfully that has a formula and a plot (yes, from this plotless writer it has a plot!) so I can come back to it at almost any time. But poetry is filling up my waking hours and thoughts.

Kate

A Snowed In Christmas Present – Short Story

Back in March my local libraries hosted their annual story contest. It’s a chance for the people in the valley to get their creative hats going, especially the schools, to write a three-page story.  Or if you are the 1st and 2nd graders, well, whatever you can write.

Over the years I have entered at various points. This year I won first place and it was kind of nice, having one 2nd and 3rd as well over the years. Below is my entry. My Hallmark of a three page story. I entered this year to challenge myself to writing  a story in three pages. I guess I made it work. Enjoy. Oh and it was inspired by this picture from Bing from a few years ago.

A Snowed In Christmas Present

Christmas Eve

Jess tramped through the deep snow, her snowshoes keeping her above the deep whiteness. Her shepherd, Max, bounded along at her side. The destination was a cabin tucked into a copse of pines near the old ski trails at the back of the new ski resort. In dry weather it was a half hour hike, but with all the snow, it took Jess over an hour to reach the primitive cabin. Built in the 40s by her grandfather, when he had owned all the surrounding land, the cabin was a sturdy log structure with a small lean-to built out back where the dry wood was stored. There was a small loft with a bed over the main room of the cabin, and that was where Jess slept most of the time, though sometimes she’d crash on the ancient sofa some relative had somehow carted to the cabin. It had always been a mystery as to how it had gotten to the cabin from so far.

It was late afternoon when Jess and Max arrived. It took Jess another twenty minutes shoveling the snow away from the front door with the snow shovel tucked under the eaves before she could get into the cabin. She quickly started a fire in the pot belly stove then started another one in the small wood cook stove. She got pans of snow on the stove to melt while Max checked out all of the corners of that cabin for mice that might have set up house in the early part of the winter. Satisfied there had been no intruders, he flopped in front of the stove with a groan. Jess laughed at him as she lit kerosene lanterns. She brought in more snow and added it to the pans on the stove before she started dinner. She had brought fresh supplies to add to the many stored items in the pantry. A stew was in order for a cold, snowy night like tonight.

She cut up carrots and potatoes to add to the tinned beef. As the stew bubbled and simmered on the stove, she mixed up biscuits from the flour and dry ingredients in the mouse-proof canisters. Soon, she and Max were eating a hot meal on this last Christmas Eve Jess would be spending in this cabin.

It was while Jess was buttering a second biscuit that she was startled by a loud knock on the front door. Max growled low and deep as she went to the window and peeked out. There stood a man with skies and poles. She quickly opened the door and saw that the man had a gash on his cheek and one of the skies was broken.

“Oh come in,” she urged and shushed Max who barked.

“Thank you,” the man said, nearly stumbling into the room. “I didn’t think I would make it; then I saw your light.”

Jess grabbed the skies and poles from him and helped him to the weary couch and noticed he was limping on his left foot. He collapsed with a groan and Jess quickly leaned the skies against the wall and grabbed the small box of medical supplies off a shelf.

“What happened?” she asked as she dampened a rag and cleaned the bloody wound on the man’s cheek.

“I was cross-country skiing up one of the old trails and ended up too close to a tree. Sank deep into the snow, hit some branches, broke a ski, and sprained my ankle.

“Oh dear. Sorry,” she muttered as she dabbed at the gash with iodine and the man winced.

“S’okay. What is someone doing out in this cabin on Christmas Eve?” he asked as if to distract himself.

“Says the man out skiing on a night when it’s supposed to snow the same night.” Jess smiled as the man gave a rueful laugh. “Max and I are spending our last Christmas here. My grandparents have owned this cabin for years, but due to some bad business deals by my uncles, they finally had to sell it to some developer. I guess he wants to make a resort here to back up the ski resort on the other side of the mountain. My grandfather used to own that land as well, but sold it years ago. So, since the developer wants to get started as soon as the spring thaw, and it’s tradition, here I am.” Jess tacked steri-strips across the gash.  “I don’t think this is going to need stitches.”

“Thank you. I’m Tom, by the way.” The man reached up and touched his cheek gingerly.

“I’m Jess Simmons. Now let’s get your ankle looked at. I don’t think you are going to be able to get out tonight on that ankle. You are at least an hour from the highway in this snow.

“I can’t impose on you,” Tom protested half-heartedly. Jess made a face at his protest as she brought a pan of snow that was mounded and set it on the ottoman.

“Right. You can barely walk and the snow is already coming down. I don’t think you are going to be able to leave. Face it, mister, you are my captive. Now take off your sock and rest your foot on this snow. It should take down some of the swelling.”

Tom did as she bade, winced at the cold, but then relaxed into the couch as Jess brought him a bowl of stew and a biscuit. He ate quietly while Jess made coffee and pulled some canned peaches from the pantry. They feasted on peaches and cream for dessert.

Then they talked after that, Jess telling Tom of the history of the land around the cabin and the cabin itself.  Outside the snow came down faster and faster.  Tom talked about his love of skiing and the mountains and getting away from his life in the city. Jess ranted about the investor who probably planned to tear up the land and make a gaudy resort. Tom told her he was an investor as well, but hated gaudy. He preferred classic mountain lodges. They talked late into the night sharing their life in the unusual circumstances of their meeting.  

In the morning, it was clear that they weren’t going to be able to get out of the cabin except to reach the outhouse behind the lean-to and the lean-to itself. They were snowed in. Which was what Jess had planned on, but Tom had not. He was worried his assistant would be going crazy since he’d never made it back to his hotel room at the ski resort, but there wasn’t much that could be done about it. So Jess and Tom spent an unusual Christmas together, playing cards, eating the simple but tasty meal Jess fixed and talking more and more.  Max claimed Tom as his own, using him as a pillow and not wanting to leave his side. Jess had never seen Max be so taken with someone other than her.

They spent two days together in the cabin before the snow blew away enough from the door that they could make their escape. Not that Jess was complaining. She liked Tom and was sad that their interlude was at an end, as strange as the situation was. It hadn’t hurt that he was a rather charming companion and quite good looking as well.

The hike to the highway was slow going, as Tom still had a limp and the one ski was broken, but they made it after a few hours. From there, Jess was able to drive Tom to the ski resort. In the whirlwind shuffle of getting him into the hotel and the staff making a fuss, she and Tom got separated. Jess thought of staying and calling his room after he got settled, but decided that she would come back tomorrow. She and Max went home, which was only an hour down the road in the small mountain community. Much to her dismay though, when she called resort, the staff told her that Tom had checked out and not left any forwarding address. Nor was the hotel going to give out his phone number.

Jess spent the rest of her holiday in a slump of disappointment, wishing she could speak with Tom and knowing the sale of the land was at the first of the year.

“Well, Max,” she said on New Year’s Eve, “it was fun while it lasted.”  Max sighed against her. He’d been moping since she’d let Tom off at the hotel. It was a very unsatisfactory way to end the year……..

Christmas Eve one year later.

Jess hiked through the few inches of snow towards the cabin. Max, as usual, bounded along beside her. There was a lot less snow than last year and the sky was clear and crisp. It was going to be a gorgeous Christmas Eve, made even more perfect by the fact that Jess now held the deed to the land around her cabin. The sale had gone through for the cabin back in January, but not long after the papers had transferred to the new owner, a thick packet had arrived in the mail. Much to Jess’s surprise, the new owner had learned of her love of the land and had gifted it to her with the deed to the land and cabin. Her grandparent’s bills were paid and she had the cabin now in her name. 

Jess had sent a thank you note through the brokerage firm that handled the sale, but she hadn’t heard anything else. Even now, months later, she was still semi stunned that she owned the cabin and could come here whenever she wanted.

The cabin was waiting there in the trees, cheery as when she had closed it up a few months ago for winter. She was looking forward to being able to celebrate again.

The lanterns were lit and a thick steak was sizzling on the stove when a knock came at the door. It was with a sense of déjà vu that Jess looked out the window to see a man standing at the door with skies in hand.  She opened the door.

“Tom!” she gasped. “What are you doing here?” She stepped aside to let the tall man in. “How did you know I was going to be here? Were you out skiing again? You aren’t hurt are you?”

Tom laughed. “You ask a lot of questions.” He leaned his skies against the wall and scratched Max who had come up to lean against the man.  “I’m here to see you. I was only skiing in from the road; no I’m not hurt. And as to why I’m here….” He paused.  “I wanted to see if my investment was getting good use. Since you are here, then I would say it is.”

“What do you mean your investment?”  Jess flipped the steak and peeled a couple extra carrots since she knew Tom was going to stay.

“Well, you did receive the deed to this cabin, yes?” Tom leaned against the counter near where she worked.

“Yes. How did you know about that?”

“Because, I’m Tom Winterthorne. I was the person that had been investing in the land around here.”

“What?! You’re Winterthorne Investments?” Jess stopped peeling.

“Yes. It was your stories of this cabin and spending time here charmed me so much I couldn’t let it leave your hands. So, I bought the land and had it righted back to you. There will always be land to invest in, but well, it’s not too often you find a woman you like who has such passion for the history of land.”

“I can’t believe you did this. I can’t believe you are the investor. I wasn’t very nice in describing you last year.” Jess ducked her head, embarrassed.

“You were unhappy. I couldn’t take it personally since I have done a few things that are like what you said.”

“I called the hotel after I let you off last year. You had checked out.  I thought I wouldn’t see you again.”  Jess dumped the cut up carrots into a pan with butter.

“Did you want to?”  Tom tipped his head to the side in question.

“I did. Very much so. I liked you. I liked our time we spent together, as strange as it was.” She ran her fingers through her hair.

“So did I. That’s partly why I came here tonight. I was hoping you would honor your traditions and come back. I was hoping to find you here.” He reached out and grabbed her hand and tugged her close. “I was hoping you wouldn’t hate me too much for me being me. I was hoping I could spend this Christmas with you as a friend again.” He leaned down and kissed her gently. “And maybe as the promise of something more.”

“I don’t think we are going to get snowed in this year,” Jess replied, “but I can’t think of a nicer present then to spend it with you.”

And if you had been standing outside of the cabin at that moment, you would have seen Jess lean up and kiss Tom as high in the sky the stars twinkled on this clear Christmas Eve.

 

Copywrite 2017 by Katie Lyn Branson

A Bird’s Frantic Tattoo – Writing Avian Poetry

Today I have been writing bird poetry. Or poems that relate to birds. I was inspired by listening to the Overdue podcast and it was on Fifty Shades Darker. One of the guys said that here we learned about the birds and bees, but in this case the bees had whips and the birds wore corsets.

I love the imagery of a delicate bird wearing a corset. Being confined so it can’t fly. Okay, love might be the wrong word. Inspirational. So I started writing about that. Unfortunately, the only images I could find when I typed in ‘bird in corset’ was women dressed in corsets and feathery costumes. Or in cages (not sexual).  But it brought the ‘bird in a cage’ feel to my mind, so escapism. I am interested to see where this takes me.

But then I was writing bits and pieces of poetry that relate to birds.

‘I have a sparrow’s heart fluttering, beating a frantic tattoo tucked away in a locked jewel box….’

or

‘The sweet damp spring calls me, a meadowlark robin am I, a trickling chattering blackbird….’

That last one turned into a two-page poem in my journal. Granted, I was using the italic nib on my fountain pen. (it uses up ink and space on a page quickly.) I want to revise it and work on it more.

Anyways, maybe it’s the spring and every morning there are birds everywhere. I hear so many birds because we are in the country and have this habitat that they love. The nesting that is going on. And the other night, I actually think it was last night, I stepped outside and I could smell the damp mist from the mountains mixing with the humid air and the scent of new cottonwoods with their spicy, musky-sweet resinous smell that is so rich and intoxicatingly good. I could hear the creek and feel the cut grass beneath my feet. There were tiny mouse-ear aspen leaves and grape hyacinths blooming. There was this silent explosive feeling to the moment. It was something I wished I could run out in and be a part of. A wild woman Taurus child. I like planting my feet in the earth and taking hold while my mind galavants off into the sky.

Fanciful, yes?

So that is me right now.  This post is a bit ADD and rambly. I should also mention I am reading Ada Limon‘s Bright Dead Things, one of my favorite books. I love this book of poetry and frequently check it out from the library.  I just looked. I’ve checked it out 6 times in the last year.  The second section and the melancholy is calling to me. Life is discouraging now. I can’t go into more than that. But Ada’s words are helping me. (they are also making me want to have my poems in print)

What are you all writing right now? What is inspiring you? I’d love to know.

Oh, and check out Overdue podcast. The two guys, Craig and Andrew, are hilarious as they go through books you should have read or have been meaning to read. And there are spoilers.

Kate