Flower Boxes, or More Than Just Surviving

 A couple of years ago, halfway into writing the third novel of my contract, the bottom fell out of my family’s life. It wasn’t a single incident; for a while there, we were sustaining damage on a lot of different fronts at once. It was much like being knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the ribs for about 2 years. Tim and I, serenely sailing the sea of life, suddenly found ourselves hurtled down a steep and turbulent waterslide of loss into a deep pool of grief. We landed; we touched bottom. And then, we trod water there for a long, long time. I somehow kept my head above the surface enough to finish writing that third novel, but that was about all I had in me. Almost a year and a half ago, They Danced On was published, but by then, I had no energy left to update my website with the news. I don’t think I even mentioned it on Facebook; definitely not on Twitter. (And I don’t know how to use Instagram.) By that time, I was beyond thinking about publicity: I was too busy trying to get out of bed in the mornings.Every Morning

The irony is that They Danced On is a story about grief. When I started writing it, I thought I knew a thing or two on the subject. After all, I had been through hard things. Who hasn’t? I’d lost friends and support systems and dreams just like the next person. What I didn’t realize then was how far down the floor of the pool can be. I still don’t, thank goodness. There are plenty of horrors I haven’t had to face. I’ve never had a child die; I hope I’ll never touch that particular bottom. But I have lost children in other, gutting ways.

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Love and the Art of Attack

Last weekend, my husband and I went away to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. Twenty-two years! This sometimes stuns me; the only other thing I’ve done for 22 years in a row is draw breath. It doesn't help that I spend most of my life feeling like I’m late for study hall, and my homeroom teacher is really going to write me up for it this time.

Love and marriage, love and marriage—the song says—go together like a horse and carriage. So speaking of love, it was interesting to come across two lines of poetry recently that seem to say conflicting things about it. The first is from Edgar Allan Poe:

Years of love have been forgot in the hatred of a minute. (To--)

The second from King Solomon:

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. (The Song of Solomon)

But which is true? Is Poe right: is love like a tree that, rooted and grounded by decades of slow, sure growth can nevertheless be ripped from the ground and swept away by the flash flood of a moment’s hatred? Or, as Solomon says, is love more like a boulder, settled square in the middle of a river that, though it may disappear when the waters rise, is still there once they recede? Well…having been legally tied to the same person for this long, I think they’re both true. Twenty-two years of anything usually has a lot of love and a lot of hatred bound up in it.

Love and Hatred

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Shopping for Accoutrements, or Embarrassing Things That Happen on Vacation

Readers of this blog might like to know that at this very moment, my mother is likely dying a small death of shame over the title I’ve chosen. This is because, in Mom’s parlance, accoutrements refers to a very specific kind of female undergarment. One worn on the top half of one’s body. My mother, let me note, adopted this term out of her wonderful wry and intelligent sense of humor. She would probably prefer I not write a public blog post about unmentionable undies and so, no doubt, would you, but still I am going to do it. But don’t worry, that’s not the only embarrassing thing I plan to write about.


The “Vacation” part of the title is because my husband and sons are away camping for the week, and my daughter is mostly engaged in the serious young adult business of Going Out Somewhere, which leaves just me and the dogs home alone. All week. It’s wonderful! I wash dishes, and they stay washed. Three days ago, I grocery shopped, and the refrigerator is still full. I have almost excavated the laundry pile down to the place where the floor is visible again. (We had all begun to doubt of its existence.) I miss my menfolk of course, just…not all that much. Not yet.

I’m not actually on vacation vacation. Not the kind where your employer pays you for not working: I still have to show up at my desk 3 days this week. But today was my day off, and I awoke thinking, It’s going to be a great day!

The wrench in the works is that I had to spend a good part of it, as already mentioned, shopping for accoutrements.

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