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Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stolen Socks

I am wearing stolen socks.  Not because I haven’t any of my own, and not because they are an exact fit, only because they soothe my emptiness inside.  The owner of these socks I have robbed, will never miss them, they were tossed aside because of the hole in the toe of one.  I think they are perfect with this imperfection; it’s only an indication of wear and tear, something that defines us all.  They belong to my absent son.  I am amazed at how simple cotton can seem to fill the loneliness in my heart, as though it knows I need to feel closer to him, by any means necessary. 

I know it is only a pair of socks.  A pair he has left behind, unwanted.  But somehow knowing it once encompassed his flesh and warmed him makes all the difference in the world.  For I also at one time did the same.  The socks are much too big for me, the white fabric flops about my feet.  I smile; it seems like eons ago I was taking a black and white photo of his ten tiny toes to send with his birth announcement.  Yet my mind knows it was only mere years. 

When is it that a woman becomes a mother?  Is it at the point of conception, or when she comes to term?  I can’t help but wonder; it seems this is too simplistic.  After all, animals can conceive and birth yet not all of them stay to rear the offspring. 

Is it when she realizes that the life she has lived so far is no longer her own?  Is it by making the sacrifices needed:  staying up when they are sick, reading at bedtime, ensuring the essentials required?  Tending bumps, scrapes, broken hearts and dashed dreams.  Talking them through nightmares, picking them up from a party where they experience alcohol the first time, which is a nightmare of your own.  Then you remember you must have done something right because at least they called.

Or does a woman become a mother when she first realizes that this child, whom she would die for, will one day leave her for a life of their own?  That even though the child is of her, and she cares for them, the child is ultimately separate and must make his own way.  When she realizes that if she fights his battles for him she is robbing him of life experience, something he needs to progress and succeed in life. 

Is a mother born when the woman realizes that a little more each day, she must learn to let go?  No matter when her mother-ness is conceived I know her role is never over, the grip of her hands never fully relax until she draws her last breath.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Fishermen's Choice

The fishermen woke early.  Dawn had not begun to punch her eye through the swirling sea mists, as the fishermen fumbled into clothes.  Their warm breath converged with the chilly air and danced about their lips as they tended to assigned tasks and breakfast chores.  Soon they were ready to gather up the last of the nets and head out to sea in the little wooden fishing boats.

Hopeful, they unfurled the sails and began their silent bargains with the sea gale gods.  Promising what they could for strong gentle winds, those that would see them to their destination without stirring the ocean into a tempest.

Even though they only experienced half of what they wanted they gave thanks for what they had received.  The day was sunny and warm and they gathered many fish from the sea.  There was much laughter amongst the men.   But while they were pulling up the last net of the day a strange occurrence happened.  Suddenly the winds came and with it the water began to grow and swell.  The men grew afraid because this was unlike anything they had ever experienced.  The skies were still blue with not a cloud to be seen and they could not understand why the ocean was acting so strangely.  It became worse and worse until the men feared their boats would capsize.  They rushed to unfurl the sail again so they could go on their way and leave the wind and the sea to their argument.

On the side of one of the little wooden fishing vessels a woman appeared, her body in the waves and her hands and arms holding on to the boat for dear life.  She spoke not a word but the men could see the fear in her blue eyes.  They were in shock of finding such a woman with them as she was not there a moment before and they wondered where she had come from.  Some men yelled to pull the woman from the sea and rescue her.  Others shouted that she was a siren from the deep and it was a trick of the scaled women.  They said they would surely die if they helped this creature. 

The wind howled and the waves grew as the men argued among themselves.  The boats began to drift apart from each other and soon the boat with the woman was alone.  As the waves grew, they began to break over the side where the woman was holding on.  Her weight pulled the edge closer to the water and it began to slosh in with an ever pressing speed.  Still she implored them with her eyes.  They knew a decision had to be made before they all died.  Either pull her in, or force her away. 

One man looked at the others and shook his head in disgust.  Then he grabbed the woman and began to haul her into the boat.  When the others saw what he was doing they too began to assist the woman.  As soon as she was in the boat she looked at the men and smiled.  Her long black hair and her strange clothes were soaked.  A fisherman offered her his coat to warm herself but she shook her head.  Then before their eyes the woman transformed into a Dolphin and jumped back into the sea, and when she did the waves and wind began to calm and the sea was again at peace.

The fishermen looked at each other knowing that no one else who hadn’t seen what they had experienced would believe their stories.  They agreed to tell the others that the woman had slipped off of the side of the boat before they could save her, and let that be the end of the story.

Day after day no matter when or where the fishermen who had saved the woman went they were successful in their catch and the boat would come back to shore with heaps of fish.  The villagers wondered about their great luck and consulted them for their secrets.  But no matter what they did they couldn’t reproduce the quantities the fishermen came back with.  This happened even when others would go out with the fishermen and fish alongside them.

What the fishermen or the villagers didn’t know was that she was confronting many fishermen of the world, testing humanity to see if it were worthy of the ocean and her bounty.  Sometimes she was met with kindness and she was pulled to safety, other times sadly it was not so, and these men didn’t know that their decisions and conduct weighed heavily for humanity.

One day the woman confronted a small fishing vessel, and like before the winds came and the brine water surged, tossing the small boat to and fro over the waves.  The men were fearful of the woman’s appearance out of seemingly nowhere and they thought her some sort of harmful ghost or sea waif come to claim them as a sacrifice for the fickle seas.  They tried to pry her fingers from the wood so they could toss her back to the brine where she had come from.  Surprised that she was indeed solid and warm, this did not deter them, so crazed by fright they were.  They could not pry her grip from the boat.  One man began to kick her hands and fingers to smash them into succumbing to her side of the boat.  It did not work. 

Finally another man took his fishing knife and brought it down upon the woman’s fingers just under the knuckles where her fingers were joined to the hand.  The frightened men were silenced by the sickening thud and then the sight of blood pouring forth into their boat.  This was no sea waif; this was no ghost of any kind.  Blood was life.  The shock cut through them like the knife cut through her. 

Before their eyes she began to transform and rise out of the sea.  She grew and grew until she was more than twenty feet above them.  Her black hair turning into writhing Moray Eels, while coral grew over her torso.  The men could see sea creatures peeking out of holes full of sea water.  Each leg began to grow opalescent scales and fins replaced where her feet had been.    

She held her hand before her as she screamed out her rage at what these men had done to her.  The sound was deafening and could be felt inside their bodies.  The sea became a huge roiling mass as angry as she.  The winds whipped at the men, pushing them this way and that.  Then the men watched as starfish limbs replaced her stolen fingers.  When she spoke, it was as loud as thunder claps, and the men had to shield their ears. 

“I have been testing you over the years to see if you are worthy of my bounty and if I should reward you with safe passage over my skirts.  Most of you humans have been severely lacking, but I searched and searched anyhow giving you the benefit of the doubt.  I wanted to fall in love with creatures such as you because in many ways you prove interesting and some have been compassionate.  With your actions today however, I can no longer look the other way.  You have proven to be dangerous infantile creatures with only selfish gain at the forefront of your consciousness. 

You have taken four things from me.  So I in turn will take four things from your future generations.  Those of you who have shown me compassion will still reap my bounty, those of you who chose to rape, or tried to destroy me, will feel my wrath. 

I will hide the fish in places you will not be able to reach, with your nets or with other means, and I will move their coral homes to places you cannot destroy them.   I will create Tsunami to cleanse your filth and dwellings from my skirts and force you to rethink your lack of respect.  I will release the storm sisters upon my face to dance their fury into colossal cyclones and hurricanes bringing fear into your hearts and those of your children.  They will wonder what they have done wrong to receive the fury, the barren seas, and wonder what they will do for food in the future, and I will whisper to them of you.  Lastly I will raise the levels of the ocean with the frozen fresh water and release ice to do battle with your ships in raging storms.  Many lives will be lost, and when they are they will swim down to join you in your watery prison. 

She raised her hand and the ocean swelled and surged tossing the men out of their boats and into the sea.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Stamp Mosaics

In my home office, things started to disappear; a box of paper clips here, some stamps there.  Small things at first, nothing significant, but enough to be an inconvenience.  

It took me a while to notice.  It isn’t as though our office is immaculate but I have order where order is needed.  I once saw a picture of Albert Einstein’s office and I could not believe someone so brilliant could ever find his way in such a messy array of texts and papers.  Thankfully, for Albert and us, there is order in chaos.  Although the universe can be a random and bizarre place, planets behave a certain way, black holes behave another.  I wondered which of those we were like. 

Our office was not as bad as Albert’s, but it was not the tidy, efficient, sterile machine like my mother’s could be either.  She had everything in its place and it always gave an unlived in vibe.  Like some kind of tomb you had to tiptoe around.  It was purely functional, as though no ideas, no life or creativity had ever breathed within its walls. 

Our office, on the contrary, was much lived in.  Not a day went by that one of us was not in some way contributing to its character.  There were wooden bookshelves lining the walls in the back holding texts, paper and envelopes.  Storage shelves doubled as work surfaces and storage areas.  Plastic bins held extra cables, mice, power bars, keyboards and various other computer equipment.  Wires were everywhere but in a way that resembled tidiness.  A scanner in the corner, printer on a wooden shelf, and with the new flat screen monitors there was more desk space.

That is until my partner starts into his coin collection.  Then there are coins everywhere, q-tips and toothbrushes for cleaning, toothpicks for who knows what, small jars of ketchup and olive oil.  Reference books, although most of his reference work is done on the internet.  Binders upon binders stacked one on the other full of his centuries old booty. 

I liked to look at them too, some of them anyway.  The old faces and crests, the way I would feel when I thought that all that time ago these heavy circles would have sat in someone’s hand, rested in their pocket.  It was like touching history in an obscure way.

Perhaps that is why things began to disappear. 

I didn’t notice it right away, because I thought Russell had misplaced what I needed and he of course thought I had.  We had even gotten into some pretty intense fights over it. 

Stamps seemed to be the most popular.  We even tried to put them in different places to break the losing streak so to speak, though that didn’t work very well.  We thought perhaps we had forgotten the new hiding places but the old empty cardboard wrappers were staring us in the face. 

Then it seemed other things were being used.  There is no other way to say it.  We woke up one morning ready for a full day of work and there were staples all over the floor.  Not unspent staples like you find in the box and load the stapler with, but spent staples.  As if someone had pushed the stapler over and over and just left the bent staples all over the floor, like they had done it for the simple joy of the sound and feel of the stapler, or that they had not known what the stapler was for.

It got stranger and stranger as time went by.  Tape would be hanging from the ceiling; stamps would be stuck to our monitors in mosaic designs.  Rubber bands seemed shot from one area and sent to another.  It was almost like we were being invaded by childlike minds in the middle of the night.  Or at least intelligent ones, the mosaics proved that.

When I asked my son Zack about these occurrences I received looks of innocence, or looks that told me he was wondering if I was really serious and this was not some kind of joke.

We let it go for a while.  As we saw it there wasn’t much else we could do.  The mischief   only happened at night and there was never any noise for us to be woken from sleep.  We did stay up all night once and hid in the dark corners lest anything arose, but to our great disappointment nothing did.  So we just let it ride.  My curiosity was almost palatable.

That was until Russell began to lose things he had already sold on the internet.  He could no longer find one of his uncirculated ten dollar bills with the radar numbered serial numbers.  The oddities were no longer amusing.  Puzzling yes, but funny?  Not in the least. 

I thought that perhaps we didn’t see anything the night we stayed up because we were awake, or because we were too noisy.  Perhaps whatever was invading our office was aware of the fact and would not show due to the thought of retaliation of some kind.  Yes I was grasping at straws, but I could no longer sit back and do nothing.  My imagination was running away with me and until I had the answer to this dilemma, it would continue to do so. 

The more I thought about it the more I became convinced that we would have to find a way to see into the office while being asleep.  I decided after much thought, that the only way to do this was to set up web cameras or a video camera in places where they wouldn’t stand out, and record the night’s visitors.    It wasn’t as though we didn’t have the technology, and it would be a simple thing to do for anyone.  I only had to figure out the camera angles and then we would capture whatever was going on.

The first night didn’t produce much.  It turned out I was so excited about the prospect of finding out about what was going on that I could not sleep.  The next night proved to be better.  When Russell and I sat down to the computer to watch the nights events I am sure our jaws hung open. 

For there, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, sat a man.  Sort of.  He was little, about a foot and a half tall, thin and had big fox like ears on the top of his head amongst sparse tufts of hair.   He had huge owl like eyes over a small nose and just a hint of a mouth. Thin arms and legs were covered by a shirt and pants that were a patchwork of bits of fabric sewn in big blue stitches.  At first he just sat there as though he was thinking about what to do.  Then gradually he picked at things about the room as though he was trying to figure out what they were or what they were used for.   For a couple of hours he sat with a book upon his lap and I was amazed that he could read our language.  Russell was not impressed when he put a couple of coins in his pocket as he left. 

Where had this little man come from?  More importantly where had he gone?  Who was he and why was he in our house, messing with our things?  How long had he been here?

Days went by and the same kind of things would happen on camera.  Until one day our little man left something for Russell.  It was a drawing he had done of Russell at the computer working.  It was beautiful, done in pencil and was signed Onhim.  So he had a name.  I thought that perhaps the sketch was to make up for the coins he had taken earlier.  Russell had left a rather nasty note demanding their return.  Something I hadn’t encouraged, after all Onhim could step out of seemingly nowhere, who knows what else he was capable of.  By the picture drawn it also seemed as though he could be here in the room with us in the daylight although we couldn’t see him.  This was troubling.  I began to wonder just how much the stranger knew about us.  However I didn’t get the sense that our visitor was malevolent in anyway.  He seemed as curious about us as we were about him.

I began to leave things for our little night visitor.  It wasn’t hard now that I knew he was an artist of sorts.  I set up an easel in the corner of the room and left some paper, pencil crayons and charcoal pencils, and then later some paints.  The result was an amazing array of drawings and paintings.  Creatures that were not of this earth or this dimension, there were fairies with gossamer wings, goblins, what I took to be trolls and amazing elfin beings.  Each surrounded in woods and trees the likes I had never seen before.  Little people made of moss and lichen.  In some of the drawings it was as though they could simply walk out of the paper that held them. 

I left many notes for Onhim, encouraging his drawings, and asking questions about the creatures.  I loved to see what he would come up with day after day.  Onhim came through for Russell too.  Apparently on his side of things, that is to say, where Onhim spends most of his life, coins are quite abundant.  A little purple bag showed up on Russell’s desk one morning full of small gold coins each with a hole in the middle.  All previous discrepancies between the two were forgiven. 

I went to the thrift store to get some clothes for Onhim.  I felt so badly seeing him in tatters.  I found some blue Oshkosh overalls and a couple blue shirts to match.  I didn’t pick up any socks or shoes though.  Every time I had seen him he was barefoot so I thought this must be his preference.  Besides I didn’t think I could find anything small enough, not even in the children’s section. 

I laid these out on the stool in front of his easel.  I was very happy to see these gone the next morning, and a thank-you note left in its place. 

~~:: ~~::

I sit perched upon the end of the bed, watching as the couple drift deeper into slumber.  The one on the right is closer to REM sleep then the woman is.  Her mind seems to be fighting the inevitable waltz with her subconscious.

I am patient, knowing I will soon dine on the delicious creativity that their minds will indulge in.  I am content to let my mind wander over the scents of their sleeping bodies.  I try to identify the origin of each fragrance.   It is the perfume of silken sweat, spent orgasms, the open pores of resting skin which roll over my tongue, enticingly sweet flavors. 

There are others like me.  We are the night watchmen.  Silent and invisible to man’s eye, keeping each night uncluttered of unwanted, unneeded dreams.  While these beings rest and create stories within their minds the dreams draw energy from the dreamer and it is on this that we feed upon.    

The woman enjoys my drawings, even giving me tools so I can bring forth the images that I sometimes see dancing over the heads of these wondrous creatures, these humans.  Her enjoyment is biased however. Originally they came from her.  She is drawn to the images because her subconscious remembers them, and although it is not filtered into her conscious mind, the feeling of familiarity is strong.  It pulls her to them.

I am intrigued by this woman.  Her detailed dreams are vividly colored and her positivity bleeds through them with hints of fruit and nectar.  She would not be so kind and giving with me if she truly knew my role within her domain and my vampiric ways.  Feeding not on blood of the flesh, but on mists of the mind.  If she knew that the creaking wood floorboards in the middle of the night were not due to the temperature changes within the house, or the house settling, but rather signaling my otherwise silent presence.  She would withdraw my welcome, and try to find a way to bar my entry.

He, in his nightly slumber, becomes invisible and flies over the world in first class correcting the wrong doings of evil men.  With saber sword he slashes through flesh, coloring the world red so the innocent may flee.  I watch his violent bloodlust, knowing that it is his primitive brain that seeks such nourishment.  I relish in the taste of such images, they are hot spicy delights.  I devour them and in turn he, during waking hours, can walk the earth safely within society’s confines.  He will not feel the need to spill havoc onto those he loves, or bring chaos into the streets because he has released such things to us. 

Some have called us the night vultures, saying we feed on the garbage that filters through the psyche.  I say we are as necessary to these beings as water, for it is we who drink their secretions.  Unburdening them of unwanted painful memories, and emotions better off not felt.  We provide these services free of charge; expecting nothing in return, only our nightly meals which sustain us. 

We have been here in a symbiotic relationship with these creatures since Mother Earth conjured us to relieve her of the constant excessive energies these beings create and litter her skirts with, and in previous ages, this was enough.

Now we watchmen can no longer keep up with the extreme populations of these beings.  Over the last centuries their numbers have exploded, the latest technologies coming out of the most brilliant minds have humans living past ages meant for the balance of things.  There are not enough of us.  Even with our insatiable appetites the balance is tilting the scales, and Mother, in turn, has begun to clean house. 

Natural disasters, global warming, humans think they have the answers as to why these things are happening.  They don’t.  The truth is we can no longer keep up to them and the way they pollute.  Green house gases?  The true pollution is the violence and negativity these beings thrive on, Mother can no longer tolerate it and survive.  Something is going to have to give and lose the battle.  I can tell you now it will not be Mother, she is too important in the great scheme of things...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

October 25th, 2011 saw the release of

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness.  I am thrilled to be counted as one of the contributors for this book.  You can find my story “The Choice”, on page 125.  This is the third book of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series that I have been fortunate enough to be included in.  The others were My Cat’s Life and Just for Preteens.   Please contact me if you are interested in personalized copies.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nature's Child

Nature’s child
looked down upon
the Arctic in despair.
Lamenting on
melting lands
and disappearing ice.
She wondered
what to do with
Lord of the ice.
Where would
the old man in the
fur coat go
when there was no
more ice to
balance upon?
Then she knew
what must be done.
She called out to
the sea bear
and showed him
the land.
Picking up
big handfuls of soil
and rubbing it
into Pihoqahiak’s coat
she explained that he could
go to sea no longer.
He must remain
on the great rock
and mingle with
Silvertip if he and his
were to survive
the scars of man.
Isbjorn bowed low
to his princess
and watched
as she skipped
from his vision
and disappeared
into the Arctic mists.

Over at dVerse Poets, it is OpenLinkNight, I thought this one would tie in nicely.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Laced Up Confessionals Part Eleven

I looked out the window today at the trees and could see from my vantage point that the boughs of some were swaying, and they almost seemed to be tickling the dark grey clouds.  I knew that with conditions like this, it was going to be a lively run.  Smiling I began to get my gear together and lace up.  By the time I was finished and looked out the window again, I was confronted with a downpour that had drops bouncing back up off of the road, and rivulets flowing down the hill. 

Perfect!  The last time I had run in the rain was way back in the end of May when I was in a running clinic and we were running along one of the main arteries in the city.  It was a hot day so it hadn’t mattered that I was getting drenched.  We had lots of fun as we slogged along, shoes squishing out their protest.  Today was going to be another of those days, one where people look at those of us on the streets and think that we are mad running in such weather.  But perhaps that is only because they have forgotten what it felt like when they were children dressed in their raincoats and boots, jumping in puddles and listening to the music the drops made on their hoods or umbrellas.  They have forgotten that juicy joy which comes from taking part in the simple things life gives to all of us.

I set out and I wonder if the glee of such a delicious moment is apparent on my face?  The cold drops have soaked me only slightly slower than a regular bathing shower.  Immediately the brim of my running hat is dripping and I am glad that it will be keeping the huge kisses of the clouds at bay, lest my contact lenses be sailing down the road a top the small rivers that steal pine needles and small stones with their current.

I am up the hill before I know it.  I wonder at how I got up it so fast, is it because I was focused on the drops and the wind littering golden leaves upon me, or perhaps because I am concentrating on being seen by the drivers more than ever today?  No longer focused on the heat and the little pains that sometimes plague me I am full of present and now.  I appreciate that which is before me and I am grateful for my health that allows me to get out and see and experience this. 

I pass the skate park where usually there are teens performing feats with both skateboards and bikes, that make the laws of gravity look like a child’s toy, and one that these wheeled wonders seem to have left in the confines of the crib’s they had grown out of long ago.  It is empty, slick and grey.  It looks lonesome and somehow lovesick for those young mavericks, who usually caress with sweat, skin and soles. 

Carrying on down to the half way point, I enjoy how alone I am on this trip.  It’s only myself and the steel shells of people coming from work who brave the streets, and every so often I am rewarded with a fresh splash of a puddle as one zips by.  Somehow it makes the whole experience all the more magical and meditative.  I have left my MP3 player at home, and I am totally immersed in experiencing the all of these moments. 

I focus on the hiss of the wet tires as they pass, I watch and run through rain chains dripping from the telephone wires above.  I listen and feel the slap flapping of my black running pants on my calves, the squelching of my shoes as every step is taken and spent, and the feel of my socks as the water makes them suction onto my toes.  (Which by the way is what I imagine vacuum packed sausages would be apt to feel, if they were capable.)  I know my cheeks are rosy, and probably match my raspberry colored top, which is a great color against the green and yellow of the background landscape.  I will, and have been seen.  I will need brighter colors come winter.

I finish up at the bottom of the hill and I am again grateful that the grip of my shoes didn’t let loose on the slick gravel and toss me on my behind.  No doubt an accident like that would leave me picking gravel out of road rash for weeks afterwards.  I had a coach once who did that very thing, although she was trail running at the time.  Came down a hill and tripped hit her cheek on a rock and the rest of the side of her face took gravel in depth.  A frightening bruise showed in the weeks afterwards, and since seeing and hearing her story, I am always reserved when it comes to steep hills.

I wrap it up at the crosswalk that marks the finish and think to myself that I am happy that I didn’t listen to the lazy girl that arises in me sometimes when facing the elements.  Even though I feel lazy at the start sometimes, I know that if I kick myself outside to just do it, I am always returning with a grin.

I survived the first of the rains that are part of living in rainforest area.  I know that this season will have much more in store as time moves on.  I am excited to see what emotions Fall will reveal.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Meditations with Tom Thumbs

For those of you who are not privy to who Tom Thumbs is, let me explain.  Tom is a caramel colored tabby who came into my life last winter as a stray.  Tom is the larger of the two cats who have decided, through the gentle coaxing with cat food no doubt, that life on the “streets” is harder than life within the compounds of our residence. 

Shy Tale, the small, dainty, grey tabby prefers the comforts of the insides of our dwelling while Tom is the defiant patio rebel.  Taking it upon himself to guard the flowerbeds and gardens from scaly and whiskered foe that dare to show themselves.  He lies out lion like, rolled over onto one shoulder and hip while surveying his domain, basking in the afternoon sun or in lazy crawling shadows of weeds that insist on emerging between the cobble stones. 

I look deep within his eyes which are flecked with a brilliant lime green and I wonder if he is somehow sending me Morse code messages through his slow winks and almost imperceptible nose twitches.  Perhaps this is some kind of feline alphabet that he shares with me through a silent knowing?  For it seems that through his lazy gaze he is also intent and focused on the slightest change I make with my own face turned upon him. I take it upon myself to try out this hypothesis on our seeming mediation and wait until I have his full attention.  When I do close one eye a little more than the other and then slowly and deliberately close both of them together, and repeat this again when I see that he is raptly focused upon my face and particularly my eyes.  I hope that if I am saying anything to him at all that it was not aggressive, the last thing I wanted was Tom’s claws in my calves.

I was somewhat surprised when Tom rose and came over to where I sat, he mewed once—almost as though he was letting me know he understood, but understood what if anything was yet to be determined—then he lay down over my feet and began a loud rumbling purr. 

I smiled to myself wondering what exactly I had said.  Did I give the signal that my toes were in need of toasting?  Or that I was feeling sleepy and wanted to cuddle?  Or was Tom secretly chuckling to himself at my frail attempt to bridge the language barrier?  Either way I enjoy my meditation time with Tom Thumbs and I am grateful for such a brave backyard warrior.

The Laced Up Confessionals Part Ten

Here we are in mid September and the first rains are beginning to fall, marking the end of our wonderful Indian summer and cooling the temperatures.  As a runner I am happy for the change.  It is amazing what a difference a couple of degrees can make in performance and how comfortable you are on a run. 
I live on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and most times on my run I am apt to see different kinds of wildlife on my way about my route.  The most common being deer, rabbits, eagle and vultures, I have even seen a bobcat one time. (What a rare treat!)  So when I think about my last run it shouldn’t be any kind of a surprise I suppose.
I was on the start of my run up the hill.  It is a long one, about half a kilometer at a forty-five degree angle, and I was about three fourths of the way up it when to my right I noticed a commotion going on up by the freeway.  An elderly woman was at the side of the road doubled over beside her car and there were people surrounding her.  I was trying to figure out what was going on and at the same time not run out into traffic, when I saw what had been the cause of the strife.  A young female deer was lying in the grass not far from the woman and her car.  Unfortunately it was a common sight along the city roads.  I was glad it was lying still and no longer breathing, because there are times when reality is not so kind, leaving the animal and the driver to suffer.  I hate seeing such things, clashes between nature and our encroachment upon it, but these days I am also surprised that there is not more of it.  I saw that the others had the situation under control and ran on, thinking about mortality, our fragility, and the meaning of such things.
On the way back I passed an area where there are many rabbits inhabiting an area off to the side of the road.  There must be forty to fifty rabbits amongst the briar and little forested area.  People come and drop off apples, grass clippings and other yard waste for them to eat.  Some people bring their children to feed them carrots.  This is probably why the population has rocketed out of control.  Or perhaps it is just because being rabbits, fertile is what they do best.  Some of these rabbits are huge, the size of small dogs really, and I love seeing them on my run.  A large grey one caught my eye on runs, it had white feet a white tail and I enjoy seeing its nose wriggle while it sat ridged trying to judge whether I was a threat. 
I saw the rabbits on the side of the road first.  There were about twelve of them all huddled close, looking at something on or across the road.  I was too far away to see.  As I got closer I saw what they were looking at.  My grey bunny lay in the middle of the right lane of the road.  Its front and back paws were straight across the road and made it look like it was in mid leap across the road when it had been struck.  There was no blood, and if you were to glance at the animal and overlook the horrid stillness, you would have thought it was just down for a nap. 
My eyes began to water.  I couldn’t tell what had upset me more, the sight of my favorite rabbit lying still, or the sight of the other rabbits looking over at it.  I wondered at their extent of comprehension of such things.  Elephants understood death, even came back after years and mourned those that had passed before them.  Could these bunnies, some so small and recent, understand even a sliver of what had happened?  It must have had some sort of impact on them or why would they be huddled together looking at the dead rabbit and not moving?  Even when I came up on the scene they didn’t scatter.  I thought of the book I had read in my youth The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, and a shiver went down my spine. 
I continued my run, pondering the death along it.  Was it the change in weather that helped end these two lives today?  I know that all things must have an end at one time or another and it would happen when we least expect it just like the rabbit and deer had experienced.  But even though it is a shared experience, a penance for life, it didn’t seem to make things easier.  A thought provoking run for sure.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Laced Up Confessionals Part Nine

Running in the summer months can be a challenge.  Sure you don’t have to tackle drifts of snow, blizzards, or horizontal frozen rain but there are dangers out there just the same.  Changes and adjustments must be made if you are going to get through the months with a smile on your face every time you get out onto the asphalt ribbons. 

Consuming more water on your runs and before and after you are running is a major factor.  If you go on a run when you are dehydrated you will notice immediately that something is wrong.  Your legs will feel as though they are full of lead and you won’t have the least amount of get up and go.  If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Not a fan of drinking water by itself?  Add some lemon for a twist, there are many ice tea variations out there, or sport drinks that will help prevent you from becoming dehydrated.  I am not a fan of these sports drinks myself so I have opted for ice tea in my water.  It is a brand that has less sugar in it and I only put half of the amount that they recommend in my bottle so it is just lightly flavored. 

The timing of runs should be adjusted due to the heat, morning or evening runs are most desirable.  Running in the apex of the day is the hardest on your system, and only invites sun stroke and exertional heat stroke. 

“With exertional heat stroke, victims continue to sweat, despite the increased core temperature. For athletes, the diagnosis of heat stroke is made with a core temperature of greater then 40.5°C/105°F and mental status changes, such as confusion, disorientation and clumsiness. Collapse and coma can occur if symptoms are ignored. The underlying cause of heat stroke is connected to the sometimes sudden inability to dissipate body heat through perspiration, especially after strenuous physical activity.

This accounts for the excessive rise in body temperature and it is the high fever which can cause permanent damage to internal organs, and can result in death if not treated immediately. Recovery depends on heat duration and intensity. The goal of emergency treatment is to maintain circulation and lower body temperature as quickly as possible.”  (Sourced by the Rafed.net article on Heatstroke and Sunstroke found here http://en.rafed.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=749:-heatstroke-or-sunstroke-&catid=138:family-health&Itemid=992

Summer is the time when we shed layers and run in tanks and shorts to beat the heat, so lathering up with suntan lotion before running is a great idea as well as wearing a hat to keep the sun off of the top of your head.  Insects can be a problem on runs, wasps and mosquitoes bother me the most, so I limit scented products and use bug spray when needed.

What else do I carry on my running belt?  Sport beans for a quick pick me up if I am on a longer run, Water bottle, Band-Aids for those unexpected blisters, Id in case the unexpected happens, house key tied into my laces, Carmex, and bus fare just in case of injury. 

I find running in the summer to be a mixed bag.  I like it because I am unencumbered by layers of clothes and I enjoy the warm weather, but when it gets to be too hot, running can become a chore and I don’t enjoy getting out as much.  If I can find runs that have more shade on them, then I am a happy camper. 

September is here and with it the cooler weather is on its way.  I look forward to the turning leaves to colour my routes and the rains to come back and green up the yards I pass. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ant Poop

I was gardening for a good portion of the day yesterday. I was weeding, and scooping up the rest of the compost to put over the now weedless patches. This compost was quite dark and dry so it was blowing on the breeze. After a while I went into the house to get a cold drink.

My Son: "Hi Mum, looks like you are doing some hard work out there!"
Me: "Yes, but it is worth while and looks great when it is done."
My Son: "What is all over your face?" (I had wiped my brow and cheeks a couple of times to get my hair and sweat out of the way and had smudges on my face)
Me: "That happens when you are working with dirt in the yard. My version of warpaint while attacking weeds!" I made comical threatening sounds and stomped about the room.
My Son: "You really shouldn't do that you know." Said nonchalantly.
Me: "Do what?"
My Son: "Work with dirt."
Me: "Why not?"
My Son: "Because it is full of Ant Poop!" He laughed and ran away.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wish Fishing

Soup is on the go
laundry is swishin'
time to vacuume
then it's dish fishin'

Hang the clothes
on the line
then later
if I have time

I'll get out in the sun
to run paved ribbons
with grateful smile
for all things given

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Divine Garden Wisdom

Peals of purple laughter
strung on silken strands
delicate, demure,

a staccato crest
feathered mist

black spattered wings float
illusions of powdered lace
movements unexpected
infused with grace
a shimmering mirage
warm currents

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Game Night

Ever since I can remember we have been a family of games.  Whether it was playing cards while camping, playing board games with friends or inventing new games outside when we were young, it was a great way to pass the time and stretch our mental limits.

I think I was seven when my aunt had first taught me to shuffle a deck of cards, not in the clumsy kids’ way, but rather the cards bent with your thumb on top of the rectangle kind of way.  It sounds like when kids put playing cards in the spokes of bikes to make them sound “cool”.  It took a lot of patience on my aunts part, and a lot of practice on my part but eventually I impressed the local kids with my card savvy.  They clamored around me to have their turn with the new card guru.

Mum taught us Marbles in the back yard, and we spent our allowance money on bags of the clear round shooters that had intrigued my mother in her youth.  I loved the way she would describe the tournaments she and her friends would have and how when describing a certain large bowler in her collection she would get this smile on her face and glazed eyes while remembering.  She would tell us how she would hit the other marbles out of the ring and emerge the victor collecting the other kid’s marbles as her prize.  Her grin was large when she got down on all fours to show us how it was done, and when she did, it was like I had somehow stepped back in time and I could see her there as she would have been in her youth.

The most popular games with my family were Monopoly, Sorry, Uno, Gin Rummy, Solitaire, Crazy Eights, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Mind Trap, Mastermind, Trivia Games, and Scrabble and more recently Pictionary, and Cranium have joined the top ranks as well.

Now as we are much older, and have families of our own we delight in coming together to visit over dinner, and once the dishes have been washed and the remaining food put away, game night begins.  We break into teams—almost always it is boys against girls—and there are times when I am sure our laughter is heard all the way down the street. 

Games have taught me many things over the years, sportsmanship, respect, expanding my intellect, rising to a challenge, patience, problem solving, and how to laugh at myself.  More importantly they have taught me more about humanity, how to respect and accept our differences, and how to work through whatever faces us.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it all boils down to how much fun you had.