I’m always hoping for a dream where a wise old woman will gift me with a momentous piece of wisdom. But instead of being visited by magical wizards, clever coyotes, or omniscient owls, my dreams have me running down the halls of my old high school, unable to find my locker or remember the combination.
Imagine my excitement when I woke up, remembering a visit by a mysterious Oracle who came to tell me the secret of life. The only problem, I couldn’t remember what she’d said. Later, her words drifted to the surface. What she advised me was: “When you shade your drawings, vary the direction you move your pencil to get a more subtle effect.”
And so all of Maery’s life problems were solved, and she lived happily ever after…
2021 Went Out With a Bang and an Ouch
My body parts have been failing for a while. Nowadays I marvel when I manage to squat and stand up without doing that awkward butt in the air, will I make it or won’t I, motion. I feel as though the theme music from Star Wars should be playing.
It’s my right knee that has failed me this time, or, perhaps, I failed it. The knee was over-extended in the wrong direction after a collision on one of my walks. There’s possibly a meniscal tear, but I don’t know for sure without an MRI, which I’d have to pay for, so I’m taking a wait and see approach.
A week after my injury, I made a trip to Costco. While walking the aisles, I feared I had become one of those shoppers I inwardly swear at as they turtle-walk through the store, blocking my dash to get in and out as quickly as possible. I have now vowed to be more patient with myself and others, and I’m sure I’ll never feel frustrated with another shopper again.
Anyway, things were going okay until I was loading a large bag of birdseed into my van, which required a twisting motion my knee didn’t appreciate. There was much hopping about on my good leg with several “Ow, Ow, Ow” exclamations. I marveled I didn’t swear, which isn’t the only thing I marvel at lately:
- I marvel at the calculated mechanics required to get up and down the stairs.
- I marvel that one of the knee exercises my doctor gave me requires me to sit on the floor. Is she kidding?
- I marvel I was able to swing my bad leg over the edge of my immense bathtub to dust the ledge that surrounds the tub. (It was somewhat like mounting a horse.)
- I marvel that I made it to the backyard shed to get birdseed, then battled my way through a bush to reach the bird feeder.
In other words, what was mundane and carried out unconsciously has become quite fascinating and miraculous when an effort is required that wasn’t needed before. So though I wouldn’t wish this kind of injury or suffering on anyone, I appreciate the slow, purposeful awareness it forces on me. Although, let’s be honest, my initial reaction was a teeny bit more negative…
When my thoughts turn dark, it’s usually because I’m regretting something in the past or worrying about the future. I’m trying to catch myself in such thoughts and pull myself back to the present—not the national or global present, which contains colossal problems, but my present, where there are actions I can take to change things for myself and others. Those changes might not be momentous, but it’s important I not believe I’m helpless to do anything at all.
Exercise YouTube Channel Recommendation: I have been enjoying the videos on Senior Fitness with Meredith. She provides a variety of exercises, including seated workouts, HIIT, boxing, aerobic, and strength, with helpful modification options.
In My Writing Life
I submitted one flash piece at the end of December for an anthology, but mostly December was a time of laying down plans for 2022. I have two main writing goals:
- Complete and submit 1 short story, essay, or creative nonfiction piece per month.
- Finish the second draft of my memoir. I’m using Allison K Williams’ book Seven Drafts to guide me through the revision process.
What I Read Last Month
- The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters: A historical fiction set in postwar rural Warwickshire. Classified as a horror story by experts, I found little horror to it. I stuck with the book to the end, but frequently yelled at the characters for being idiots. Then again, their behavior was typical of the times.
- The Witches of New York, Ami McKay: Historical fiction and fantasy set in New York during the time of witch hunts and the suffragette movement. A book with a tea shop, herbs, and magic that I much enjoyed.
- Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi: From reading others’ reviews of this book, it appears you either love the book or it disappoints you. I enjoyed it. Using the form of a fairy tale, the story is about racism, standards of beauty, and family secrets.
- The Tenth Gift, Jan Johnson: Another historical fiction and mystery. I loved how the story was told through the eyes of a woman in current times, following the trail of a woman living in Cornwall in 1625 through an ancient journal. The romance was predictable, but I’ll forgive that…
In My Gardening and Growing Life
What I discovered during my attempt to grow pea and sunflower seed shoots indoors in December is that mice really like those seeds. They’ll eat pea shoots as well, but mine hadn’t actually gone beyond a shoot just barely emerging from the seed.
For my second shoot growing attempt, I did the thing I should have done in the first place: research how to grow shoots indoors. The seeds needed to be covered, so no light reached them and weighed down so the shoots had something to push against. I used trays with weight packs from my weighted-vest. Inadvertently, this also protects seeds from mouse marauders.
This crop is doing much better…
Wishing you a gentle, loving, and healthy new year.