Sunday Night At Twilight ~ Gathering Thoughts Of My Life In A Basket As I Walk Through The Day…

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

~o~ Joan Didion ~o~

Dear Ones,

Sundays are days of grace, of reflection, of gathering up thoughts, experiences, lessons, surprises, worries, sadness’s, nightmares and day-joys, and I, like women throughout history, put them in a basket, one by one, as we women do gather things to carry, things we deem necessary or important. Women today mostly carry purses. Bags, totes, even woven Guatemalan baskets, but it seems we are always carrying things.The thoughtful reflections are most often gathered at twilight, when I am most likely to be in a moodling mood, as Brenda Ueland wrote — I love the word moodling — in her book If You Want To Write ~ A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. I think every writer should read this book. It was always a must read for my students who often had more desire than courage to write. This is a book that gives one courage and makes you laugh and think and charge ahead with notebook and pen and begin moodling on paper. This will lead me to the computer but I like to write by hand first.

Having written since I was 9 years old when I hid under the forsythia bushes and wrote pitiful poetry in a cheap red spiral notebook with a Bic Stick ballpoint pen which at the time were 19 cents — Lord, at 58 I’m going to start sounding like my dear Grandma who used to talk about when a loaf of bread was only a nickle with a sigh. I remember when I started driving and was really broke putting a quarter’s worth of gas in the car which would do me for a little while. I don’t think you could even get the pump started for that today! — and having written in all manner of notebooks and journals through the decades, for a very long time only beautiful, expensive ones, I have found a notebook/sketchbook  that I love dearly and they are so cheap I bought several at once from Dick Blick. They are 6×6″ square, have bright orange sturdy covers with heavy flaps on each side to tuck pages in to get them out of the way, and heavy paper for sketching or water-coloring, which makes them perfect for throwing in my basket during the day or around the house to make notes in. I know that I am really writing a book now because I write everything down obsessively lest I forget something deemed crucial at the moment whether I ever use it or not. It is a relief, this obsessive/compulsive note-taking. It lets me know that now the writing is real and will continue.

So I’ve been writing off and on all day in this little orange notebook with, oddly, another Bic pen that also writes blue, after decades of snobbishly only writing with fountain pens, most especially the pen of my dreams which I finally got at 1/2 off and it still cost way too much, a Mont Blanc that is the size of a big fat cigar and can only be filled with a bottle. I call her Big Mama and still love to write with her but she leaks. Badly. No, oddly what I write with now are permanent ultra fine point markers that glide across the page fast and keep their sharp point. I have been scribbling with this blue pen all day long.

What are some of the things that I have put in my basket today? They are all an odd jumble and some may not make any sense but I’m going to put them down here just to find out, “… what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” as Didion wrote.

Notes in The Basket…

* I love my house. I love the home I am creating. Funny, it is not what I ever imagined as my dream house but it is now, I have dreamed my way into it, and I can’t imagine ever living anywhere or wanting anything else. It is a little 40+ year old white ranch house at the end of a very quiet dead end street — mostly older retirees live around me — that looks and feels very cottagey with old stands of trees and the back of my property is large and wooded and slopes down to a creek. I don’t see the creek because I had the yard fenced in with a privacy fence when I moved in, both for the dogs and, as a virtual recluse I value my privacy above almost all else, a funny thought as I write it for someone who writes so openly about herself and her life, and yet I realize it is because words on paper are safe for me, I can meet you here. I could not and would not likely meet you in person. People have hurt me in my life, animals have not, and so I live with 9 animals in peace and garden and write and pray and work amidst piles of books and pens and notebooks and fiber tools and things stacked everywhere which often brings me to the brink of despair but I just don’t know where to start to clean it all up.

(I just stopped writing here for a moment because the pugs were looking at me in the most pitiful way. They sleep around me all day but by this time of night, 9ish, they expect that we will all be cuddled together on the big overstuffed couch reading or watching t.v. where they can be draped over my body and, content, go to sleep because Mama is where she belongs. I haven’t even eaten and I eat rather oddly. I think it is not unusual for someone who was once part of a family of five with big family meal-times who now lives alone. I rarely eat out or order in, I don’t keep junk food here, I eat organically when possible, but I eat an odd conglomeration of things. Currently I am eating no carbs or sugar, though I am allowed a glass of wine in the evening, so I just went and poured a small class of chilled Pinot Grigio and melted brie on a plate. No crusty bread, sigh, but the pugs, having followed me around and gotten a wee bite of unmelted brie have settled in a little less restlessly around me. And the smooth warm cheese and chilled white wine are helping my body relax. I am not much of a drinker, just a glass of wine here and there of an evening. It is allowed with this diet which I was amazed by but grateful for, especially when I eat melted brie on a plate and not on crusty French bread.)

* French, France, my heritage, my dream. More notes. I am half French, hence having taken the name Libellule after my divorce. Libellule is dragonfly in French and the dragonfly is my totem animal. Also as my biological grandmother’s maiden name was Papillon, butterfly, it seemed fitting and a nod to my French heritage. I took 4 years of French in high school and went to France after graduation only to find out that 4 years of high school French do not prepare you for speaking French in France. But I knew enough to get the odd word or phrase out and it was Paris after all. Paris was my dream. I was taken with the 20’s and 30’s in Paris, the writers and artists and cafe society. I sat in cafes and had cafe au laits and wrote furiously while rereading Hemingway’s A Movable Feast. For the rest of my life I have longed to go back to France, even to live there. I have cried over it when a movie was set in a beautiful French landscape or amongst Parisian landmarks. I read M.F.K Fisher’s cookbooks on French cuisine as if they were the most riveting novels and dreamed of Dijon and Provence. I would live in Provence, I thought, and walk to the market, and visit Paris. I thought of this today as I walked about the yard with the dogs realizing that this, after all, is my dream house, and I’m happy where I am, and I have become an armchair traveler, and, and you will find this perhaps odd but I am so delighted by it I am beside myself, I have just started taking the Rosetta Stone course in French. I want to speak and read and write fluent French even if only to the parrots and the pugs. Life is funny like that. Life is always funny for most people I think, but few people really discuss these things. I do, and I used to think it was a very odd thing about me, but now it suits me just fine and feels right, for whatever that’s worth.

* Painting yourself into a corner or creating the life of your dreams? My corner. My dreams. That’s what I was thinking about just kind of moodling about here snuggling pugs and kissing and talking to my poor plucked grey parrot, recently adopted. Scarlet has plucked for over a decade and though she has a varied and high quality diet and so many toys that she can shred that her cage looks like Disneyland, she still prefers shredding herself. I have tried everything I know how, I, whom people have called a Parrot Whisperer, having started and run a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots and hand-raised everything from a finch to a macaw and everything in between and taken the wildest, unruliest parrots and tamed and loved them cannot get this poor little girl to stop plucking. She’s done it all her life and she’s 12 years old. It’s like a person biting their nails obsessively. I have cried over it, thought I’d need to find another loving home for her because I just couldn’t bear it, and then knew I’d never do that and I love her just as she is, plucked and all, and she takes me with all of my oddities and idiosyncrasies and kisses me and sings with me and seems happy here and so I guess we’re doing just fine. And I love her already. Deeply, dearly. Poor naked Scarlet is not going anywhere.

Miss Scarlet

Oh, painting myself into a corner. You see, the thing is, I have created a life, by choice, that is pretty much cut off from the world and full of animals and I have only left twice in one year, once for my son’s wedding and almost the same week this year to meet my new baby grandson. It is very difficult to find a suitable babysitter for this crew not just because there are so many but with four special needs pugs (one blind and the others having been so badly abused they pee everywhere and I’m constantly cleaning up and they are all on all kinds of meds…) that though I don’t really want to go anywhere, when I have to (running about locally for errands on the odd days is fine) it is a nightmare to find a good situation to leave town because someone literally has to stay here all the time. I have been lucky to find someone but it not only wasn’t easy I was anxious over them the whole time. My garden is so large that it could quickly die in this heat if I were gone long, not that I want to be, but when the odd dream of Paris slips up again or a family celebration that I wouldn’t and couldn’t miss for the world, I do wonder what I have done, and yet… this is what I want, this is the life of my dreams, this funny, simple little, animal filled, jumbled up, quiet, happy life of mine.

No, I didn’t paint myself into a corner, I have built the life of my dreams.

* I am an odd gardener and it suits me just fine. I plant seeds by the thousands, buying them by the pound, and plant them like some whirling dervish of seeds. My theory is that in nature when things go to seed and self sew they do not plant themselves in tidy little rows and what will survive will and what won’t, won’t, and there are always lush gardens and flowers aplenty. Then there’s the tiny fairy garden I’m growing on my deck just outside my studio windows. Amidst the trailing hot pink petunias, wild flowers that I have uprooted from the yard and seeds that I planted, there are volunteer sunflowers from all of the bird feeders I have on the deck. It is helter skelter and delights me no end. Just wait until the fairies come, they will love it!


I took lots of pictures of roses blooming with my phone when I was out first thing with the dogs this morning but sadly only one is worth showing because it was so early, and I was so tired, having slept almost not at all last night, watching old episodes of “Dark Shadows,” which tickles me no end, until about 4 a.m., that I somehow took most of the pictures with my blue Crocs, which are a few years old and much the worse for the wear, plus the corner of my ratty red “house dress” which is like a long t-shirt, very soft and comfy but not what you want pictured with your roses,  showing up in the best of the rose pictures. Geez. But this is a photo of my favorite rose with many new blooms about to open, David Austin’s English rose, ‘Heritage.’ I have planted roughly 40 roses here so far in 2 1/2 years and I love them all dearly and have many favorites but ‘Heritage’ is always at the top of the list, a soft seashell pink and very fragrant…

I could keep rambling on but I feel you all nodding off if you’ve even gotten this far and the pugs have given up, poor little things, and are all snoring around me. All but wee little blind Penny who is in my lap where she thinks she belongs so I am typing via the “hunt and peck method” now with one hand as she is nestled in my left arm. I’d better get the boys up and head into our couch and we will pile into our lumpy puffy comfy pillows and soft blankets and watch a movie. My brain has just officially stopped working and I’ve barely touched the wine. It will likely go back in the fridge as it often does.

I’d love to know what you have in your basket but as we will almost certainly never meet you can write them on the wind. I promise I can hear them and I care, I really do, more than you know.

Good night, sweet dreams, the pugs and I are heading to the couch…

Make this the year your resolutions come true!

Make this the year your resolutions come true!

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