In a Handful of Hours

Are you familiar with the saying, “What a difference a day makes”? I’ve had many days I’ve thought about that saying over the years. Be it for weather, nerves about a test, an upcoming interview, whatever you are most grateful was over with or resolved. The same holds true with feelings. In that split nanosecond when someone cuts you off on the highway, and you become enraged, to the relief in finding your wallet dropped in the car instead of the mall parking lot you left an hour ago. Feelings can complicate, enhance, repair and rip apart your soul. Time can be all-powerful and begin to mend them. Sometimes in a day or in my case, surprisingly, just a handful of hours. In my case, it was wee hours of the morning.

We had a pretty bad day. Like many uncomfortable events, it started with a misunderstanding and grew in tension that became so thick, a knife was useless. It would have required a chainsaw to carve through. When siblings lock horns, and feelings become fragile splintered glass needles. It is difficult for parents to navigate or offer advice. In our case, when one is leaving, moving out of state for a new job, a new beginning, ready to write chapters all her own. Yet the other sister is staying on, finishing undergrad work, looking at a path in a different direction next year. You do not want them to depart in anger. Oh, time will heal the harsh words and hurt feelings, but the relationship will be frayed, not torn, but damaged nonetheless.

As I crawled into bed, feeling terrible that nothing I could say or offer would be accepted. No mothers soothing words and kisses on the forehead can erase this kind of pain. The ache inside me grew but I knew they had to figure this out without me.  A few hours later as the light from my cell phone directed my way to get a drink of water, I found a note. Just a few words I could make out on the bright screen in the darkness. All was forgiven. Everything was right in the world. Immediately the weight on my shoulders lifted, it suddenly began to rain. A cool breeze flowed through the house and the air was lighter. When I went back to bed, it was with a smile on my face. Our little family was whole again.

That night, our children (funny isn’t it, no matter what their age, they will always be our ‘children’) healed one another’s feelings and hearts. Apologies were both given and accepted. They listened and actually heard what the other one said, how they felt and the why behind the words. They laughed and supported, cried and ultimately became stronger and better sibling to the other. I can not wish for anything more than that can I? It means the world to me that each has the other to lean on, be with and ultimately grow old together when I’m gone. To be honest, not having a sibling makes me feel a little lost in this world.

I miss my brother terribly, who I only had a relationship with for a handful of my adult years. In part thanks to a bitter relative who walked away and chose to carry anger and misunderstanding tightly inside. I can’t fix it, nor can I reach out more than I’ve tried in the past. But for my own daughters, seeing hurt and anger between them cut me deeply. I’m so proud that during the formidable years, with a little nudging, encouraging communication and growth to understand one another nurtured a special relationship. They were actually listening all along! How about that?

It is my hope we all can come together, feel the pain of the other, then figure out the path toward healing.

Our family is not unique, although it is stronger than some, yet my husband has always said, we know what needs to be done. We know the why and it is the listening and accepting how the other feels that is the key. To continue to love one another through that is the magic. And caring enough to go through storm after storm is the faith in family. Recognizing who the individual is as they are, not to change them into what YOU want them to be, but to help them be the best they can critical. Difficult true, but not impossible. I know that now.

How deeply emotional, yet healing and all-encompassing this experience has been. I am still amazed at what was learned in just a handful of hours. It is life changing. Just as life can change with an unexpected apology, “I’m deeply sorry I hurt you” or when a beloved member of the family unexpectedly dies, and you are blindsided with grief, it turns one’s life in an instant. It changes. It can change for the better in precisely the same amount of time. To be mindful and accept those moments are indeed a step toward if not enlightenment, serenity.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

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Spaces We Take For Granted

This blog was written by accident. What I mean by that is, I was thinking about the cost of a new energy efficient air conditioner.  Especially this summer when we’ve had high temperatures and humidity that will knock you down. Trying to measure the areas and calculate the space was required before choosing a unit. The products available are more advanced, but you still have to figure out how much space you actually have. Have you ever considered just how much space you have?

Earlier today, I finished grocery shopping and was grateful I did not have to go back out into the heat. Our street has been under construction for weeks, I had waved to the road crew who looked as if they were literally melting on the pavement. My heart always goes out to people who work outside year round who do not have the option of working from home. And of course, the animals with no choices at all, just trying to survive. We are fortunate to have food and clean water. As well as a place to store and prepare meals. And that is where the accident happened. The space we have, the space we live in, the spaces we take for granted.

I thought how about lucky we are to have separate places to sleep in clean and comfortable beds. We have yet another space to bath, with fresh hot and cold running water and clean towels in a modest linen closet. There are other areas to store clothing and stuff we remember we have when we are looking for something else.

Some of us have an area to pull a car (or two or three) into, or park motorcycles, and let us not forget spaces for lawn mowers and tools we use only when we’re outside. Some of us have additional spaces, cute little sheds to put snow blowers, wheelbarrows and bikes into, to keep them safe and sheltered from the elements.  In our dwellings are rooms to sit. Safe and sound, we rest our rumps on cushions, in chairs, on sofas, stretched out on lounges or piled on pillows as we stare into a screen be it, tv, iPad, iPhone, computer and not into one another’s eyes. These dwellings can be Cape Cod style houses, Colonials, English Tudors, Castles with rooms and rooms of extra space. Or apartments, that never have enough storage space.

For those of us who love to read, we’ve have carved out even more space. We have shelves we carefully place, positioned by size, genre or decor our treasured books. We may not have read any of them, or all of them, or have kept most of them from childhood, as gifts or our beloved book of the month club selections. They look great stacked beside a favorite piece of art, vase, or framed pictures of loved ones that create a special place space just for that moment in time. We have all this space for cooking, working, writing, reading, sleeping, playing, bathing, storing stuff, storing guests, storing more stuff. Areas that hold holiday items, seasonal items, items we want but never use, items we don’t even know we have any more, but we’ve got space for those too!

Yet do we have space in our hearts to include caring, empathy, emotions such as love, hate (hey, it dwells somewhere, if not in your heart where? Your liver? Nah, hate impatiently writhes and slithers around within your heart.) happiness, sadness, contentment, discontentment etc? We also have space in our head, not the sarcastic space between our ears as we’ve often thought of some people having (or lacking?). It is that space in our head that is the hardest to control when we fill it with worry. We may be creatures who love to learn, or who hated school. We search for knowledge or avoid it at all costs. We dream, or wrap ourselves in nightmares, doubt, loathing, and grief. Our mind works overtime. We need to clear our mind and re-evaluate the space.

I am blessed with four children. Two came with my husband. Two my husband and I created together. Each vastly different, yet when we all come together, the space between us dissolves. The air is lighter, love deeper, fondness for one another palpable. I don’t know if it would be the same if we all lived close by all the time. But I do know the times we are all in the same zip code something wonderful happens. Time stands still, and the joy of living in the same space expands.

I know there is a saying of not wanting more, but being happy with what you have. It made me give pause and take time to look hard at what we have and see just how much we surround ourselves with, what we actually use, what we don’t use, what we store in boxes, in sheds, in attics and what we enjoy, and look at every day. It’s not about the stuff, or how big your space is compared to mine, it never was.  It is about the people you surround yourself with and share space.

So do the math, calculate just how much “space” you have. You might be surprised.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

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Today I Saw the Face of Racism and She Looked Like Me

When I woke up this morning, it never entered my mind that along with what would be one of the top ten most beautiful days of early summer; with bright blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a delicious breeze that silenced all window air conditioning units in our home. It would also be the day I met racism in a way I never have before, and it shook me, and it enraged my youngest daughter.

If I could rewind the incident, I would follow my daughters lead fast. Stop smiling, stop trying to explain my point of view, disagreeing without being disrespectful and walk away. She did the right thing. She stopped talking, turned her back and walked away. Leaving the woman flabbergasted and rushing to hear herself state she was not a racist. Neither of us had used the word, why did she? Because she was guilty of being one. That simple act of turning your back and leaving silently shouted volumes. But I was frozen to the ground trying to rationalize with someone who could not be rationalized with, someone who was as hard and cold as the stones around her.

Anyone who knows me, knows I like rocks. I’ve asked friends and family who have had the opportunities to travel to bring me small stones and pebbles from the different places they’ve visited. I have rocks from Japan, China, Singapore, England, Ireland, Sweden, and Slovenia. Stones from beaches, mountaintops and the bottom of canyons. They are placed in jars, sitting on the mantle in bowls, and tucked in tabletop water fountains. Others are balanced Cairns in the yard. Today when I woke up, I knew we had planned to visit a place we’ve always passed when we’d be going someplace else, and say, we’ve got to stop there one day and look around. A large area filled with various building blocks, granite, slates and river rocks, each placed on a pallet secured with heavy mesh wire. A rock lovers dream!

Sloatsburg, New York is not far from us, but it’s one of those towns on Route 17 that you take to go through on your way to the Renaissance Fair, or apple picking, or to visit friends in the town of Warwick. There are a few watering holes, a few old stone churches and potholes my Jeep seemed to disappear into and climb out of the other side! It is an old town. Old buildings, old architecture and apparently this individual has a very old worn out personality, but she looked like she was my age and I don’t consider myself old. Yes, I admit I’ve said old timer sayings like, “She has the personality of lint!” or “He is not worth the real estate he’s standing on.” But this person’s personality was as cozy as shards of glass, broken pieces of concrete and twice as cold as marble without the luster.

When I saw this person, who I assumed was the owner, my first signal should have been her lack of a smile. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt, I tried to start a friendly conversation, but was quickly shut down. When someone turns their backs and shakes their head, that’s a good sign they really don’t want to converse, but I was told we could look around. We did. But my youngest child did not join us, she had brought her camera and found a large boulder to perch on while we explored. Several minutes later we noticed she was having a conversation with the woman and was pointing our way, little did we know she was being questioned, no, more like interrogated – why did she have the camera? Why is studying to be a photojournalist? What was she taking pictures of? Is that your family? Where are you from? My daughter shared the interaction with me later. Funny thing was she couldn’t answer one of her questions without her rapidly forcing another. It felt like an assault, not a conversation.

As my husband and older daughter continued to explore a different part of the property, I joined my youngest daughter, wrongly assuming the conversation they were having was pleasant. Oh, boy was I was wrong. It started when the woman stated she had changed grocery stores for ones that had more white people shopping there. (Wait, we were just looking at rocks). She began to bash illegal immigrants and that they deserve to lose their children who are falsely saying they’re being abused. (What?) “They are all taught to lie, they come into this country angry at what we’ve got so they can’t help but steal.” What went from a beautiful day together, taking a ride to visit and possibly purchase building materials for a fire pit, suddenly turned dark overshadowed with a person spouting hate. When a person groups an entire ethnicity or nationality together and drills in the point of mass assumption, that EVERYONE behaves this way because of their race, they themselves are a racist. At this moment, even the breeze stopped blowing.

When this woman realized my daughter had just shut her down, ignoring any further statements or questions squared her shoulders and walked away – panic set in. She began to babble, she wanted to know why my daughter was so upset and was it because of what she said, and “I” was to tell her “she” was not a racist. Funny, she used the term not me. When she saw my husband was black, she quickly asked which black. I looked at her puzzled, my oldest daughter now pulling on my arm that we needed to go, and go now. The woman’s anxiety rose, she frantically rushed to say, “I have a black friend!” That alone is a panic statement, do you categorize all your friends? I have a white friend, I have a Jewish friend? Really? It’s not your ‘friends’ that are the problem – it is you – it is in your head.

Statements like, “I have a black friend.” are wrong. So are generalizations, for example, “Woman love men who have beards.” Innocent enough right? Some woman do like men who have beards, but to say this type of blanket statement immediately take the individual out of the equation. You strip them of their individuality. Which was exactly what this woman did. But her veil was lifted, she exposed her own narrow-mindedness racist self and was shocked that we were not going to get caught up in her hate, we were not going to agree or engage with her, we were never going to do business and there was nothing she could do to stop us from leaving. She ultimately shot herself in the foot – twice. As we walked to the Jeep, she frantically called to us to please come back, please buy rocks from her, please know she wasn’t a racist! Her cries hit the rocks she had surrounded herself with.

I felt nothing. No empathy. No patience. Nothing. Here was someone my age, that when we first arrived I had planned to introduce myself to, strike up a conversation and ultimately buy the stones I was searching for. It didn’t happen. It won’t happen. So why am I still shaking? The trip home was quiet. Each of us lost in our own thoughts. The experience sat heavy on our shoulders. Why? Because you can read about it, watch it on t.v., or listen to someone else’s account of it, but when you are faced with racism and it stands directly in front of you – and it’s coming from someone who looks like you – it is beyond troubling. It makes you think of those civil rights era pictures of those who were refused service in diners, of people being blasted with a fire hose, having dogs teeth tear away at your arms and legs, being kicked and punched by those sworn to protect you, but no, instead they swear at you. Prejudice and racism are alive and well in America today. Like it or not, it is taught and thriving. So what am I saying in this blog? All I ask is that you give it some thought, how will you handle it when it looks you in the eye? What will you say? Will you stand and scream back, or will you turn your back and walk away leaving the person alone wrapped in their own hate?

My youngest daughter taught me how to handle racism today with pride, grace, and dignity and I am forever grateful and very, very proud of her.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace
Patty

Patricia Young has been married to her husband Warren for almost 32 years. By the way, she is white, he is black and their children are beautiful. Note: rocks were acquired for free from a much friendlier person that even helped load what was needed to build a fire pit. Now, to find some wood!

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Little Bits of Happiness

Last month I wrote about the unexpected passing of my sister-in-law.  Although we lived more than 2500 miles apart. Her absence is indeed felt. The space in our lives where she resided is empty but not hollow. We can still feel her love, her spirit, and the soul that once lived inside the amazing woman she was. So yes, there is sadness and pain associated with her death. Knowing we can’t talk to her, hear her laughter, or go to visit and spend time with her. But there is also a calmness. Knowing she is no longer in pain, she is free from medications, and poisons pumped into her body to fight an illness that ultimately took her life.

Time has passed since learning of her death. Wrapping our minds around the event, trying to understand the why behind the tragedy. Then driving 24 hours to the funeral, the burial, sitting in her house, which felt vacant filled with people. It has been weeks since then, yet our lives continued, changed as they are, they contain the mundane, the ordinary, the usual – and yet now they mean much more. We recognize the simple things and take a little more time to appreciate every day – every – day. It makes one thankful. Grateful when you can take a deep full breath of clean air. To enjoy a crisp apple. To wash a sink full of dishes you’ve just served a meal on to your family, who lingered at the table a little bit longer. I hope these feelings last and more moments are shared and cherished.

Remembering is a powerful thing. To take time to remember and feel the way you did before the feeling turned into a memory is special. I think it keeps the person or event in your mind and heart. I can only hope they can feel that and know they are still and always loved.

Recently I returned from a week-long trip to Cape Cod. My daughter had a workshop she was attending, and I was given the gift of time. The last time we were there was just about a year ago, and I finished my first book. It was a personal achievement I sincerely hope will be published. Since then I am still searching for an agent and/or publisher. It is an exhausting, frustrating and skin-thickening process. So for the week in Chatham, I was allowed to walk on the beach, listen to seagulls, watch sunrises and simply be. I chose to read. I chose to clear my mind of thoughts and aggravations and watched the waves. I chose to listen to the water rush onto the sand and study the patterns left on the beach. I chose to feel whatever feelings came, then let them blow across the shore. It was a mindful meditation of sorts.

Now that I am home, trying to find slices of those choices has been a bit challenging. But it can be done. By holding the stones and shells tucked in my jeans pockets from those walks. Looking at the photographs of each sunrise, the beautiful ones in all the splendor and glory the sun paints as well as the ones designed in shades of grey with storm clouds on the horizon. Wearing my sunhat to do yard work and sipping coffee in my rocker on the front porch watching the birds in the feeder.

Today as I drove to work over Bear Mountain and although it is the last day of April and spring arrived almost six weeks ago it was snowing! Not accumulating snowflakes that must be shoveled away, but big wet ones that slapped the windshield and required the wipers to stay on. By the time I arrived the snow had turned to rain, but tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful and 75 degrees. Go figure.

So do we complain and fuss? Well, you could, if you chose to, but I think it is better to take a deep breath or two, hold that seashell in your hand, a cup of warm something in the other and remember. Remember someone you lost or someone you still have, consciously think of things that make you smile, laugh or shake your head. Make the mindful effort to bring those slices, pieces, little bits of happiness into your own life. Find those sunrises, waves or mountain paths and take a walk. Clear your mind, your heart, and your head. Take a picture or two or more and remember to look at them, not just glance as you rush by.

Take the time to slow down and live, right now, right this moment. Take time to do some remembering of your own, and if it means you need to grab a tissue that’s okay too. We don’t know just how many slices, pieces and little bits of life we have. So cherish this life you’ve been given and live it!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

 

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Her Voice On The Phone

When I heard your voice, it did not sound the same. It was weak and more fragile than a dewdrop glistening in the sun clinging to a blade of grass. The tone was soft, too soft, not quite a whisper. The notes were flat, it was apparent that it was a struggle for you to speak. It frightened me as I’m sure you were frightened, maybe even angry and you had every right to be, but there was no trace of hard emotions in your voice. There was no room for it, it took all you had inside you to draw an even breath.

That day, I sat alone and thought of all the times you had called over the years, the way you’d say, “Hello” and my name, always made me smile. The brightness of your voice. The bubbly laughter when you’d share a story. It troubled me when I realized that I didn’t remember the last time I heard that sound or felt that warmth since you began this fight.

After we talked, I couldn’t help but say a prayer and ask why, and request any comfort the Universe, God, Gaia, Jehovah and/or the Great Spirit could wrap around you, your husband, daughter and family living on the different continents of this earth, friends – everyone who loves you. Prayers always seem to be called on first when something terrible happens, or thanking the powers that be when something wonderful happens later on – but not much in the middle.

When you called with the news of the next plan in your treatment, and what the outcome could be, I wondered if you would reroute onto another medical highway, a different direction with different medicines, extend the journey in rehab? Or do you find the exit that leads to your home? To have your things filled with memories, history, and happiness to surround you. Familiar smells, faces, photographs capturing events, a favorite teacup. Both have pros and cons, one is bittersweet.

I can remember times when you called and were so frustrated with your daughter as she was growing up, or the sadness in your voice that your husband’s decisions were not that of your own, or your parent’s demands and doing what they thought was best were sometimes exhausting and annoying, resentful and downright wrong. Yet YOU always, always persevered. Always. Surrounded by wants overwhelmed and stripped away need. There never is, but there should be because guilt, anger, and resentment builds and builds and eats away at the soul. We swallow the pain silently. Now we understand it does more harm to ourselves than good. That standing our ground and doing what we need to do for us first might just be the healthy, more productive, meaningful way to live and move forward. You shouldered the struggles, braced yourself, raised your chin and did what you thought was the best. Which always was the best you could do. Your daughter thrived and continues to grow and learn how to navigate this life. Your husband knew he could count on you and how strong you were.

Of course, those are just words typed onto a page right now. The important thing is not to dwell in the past but push forward with plans and events for the future. Hope is a powerful medicine, more powerful than any medication a doctor can prescribe. Feeling loved is even more powerful than hope. You are loved.

Do you have a pile of the latest magazines to look through, inspiring books to read and puzzles to work at?  Keep that mind thinking!

I know when you are called to teach, to raise a child, to develop a relationship, to secure boundaries and focus on a bigger picture – it is important. When you are called and can share an experience, point out a pain then heal the wound, with a little faith and clear mind, you can forgive and then you can grow. No pointing fingers, no ugly words or threats, judgments or fighting. I believe fighting only points to your own flaws. It strips the beauty and reveals a hidden ugly side of a person. We are ALL familiar with those individuals, sometimes we’re even related to some of them! Lol!  Which is hard when we love them deeply. We want so much more for them, our darlings, our joys. Hurtful words leave deep scars. Ignoring them does not make them go away.

So when we spoke, I realized there is time to reflect and time to apologize for any past regrets. Not to push off what can be said until tomorrow – but to voice them to anyone and everyone we care deeply for. That is a gift. There have been so many gifts and more positive times over the years I’ve been graced to know you, so much laughter. But Maureen, if I have ever offended you if I’ve ever overstepped or wallowed in my own pain and sadness, it was not my intention to cause you harm or hurt your feelings, and I am deeply sorry if I did. No one has the right to judge another person, no one really has the right to find fault and shine a spotlight on the pain. Everyone has the right to love how they choose, live as they choose and journey for as long as they can or desire in whatever direction they wish to take. You always allowed that, and I cherish you most for it.

You loved my girls and their talents and faults including of course Clayton, our amazing young man and sweet Shakira who hasn’t changed a bit. You deeply love your brother, who is such a good man, who always brightens when he says your name. I love you for all that and so much more.

Remembering your calls over the years, the last handful of months, the past few days – I choose to remember your voice and how it made me smile. I choose to think of your thoughtfulness. You NEVER forgot a birthday. You never forgot to send Christmas cards, encouragements, sympathy cards, every holiday card! You always asked and were interested in what we were doing. You care, you cared, you’ve always cared, and we loved you for it so much.

So as you lay there, I ask you, I beg you, to find that part of you that always had a kind and gentle word and put yourself in a place of true and complete healing, light and love and know you have literally a ton of people thinking of you, cheering for you, praying for you and planning to have future memories with you.

I’m thinking of you right now and love you very much,

Patty

It is with a heavy heart to share with you that my sister-in-law Maureen passed away in mid-March. She leaves a husband and daughter who loved her very much and I know will miss her every day they walk on this earth. As will everyone who was ever blessed enough to have met her. She was happiness, she was warmth and caring. She was laughter, light, and love. She was Maureen.

 

 

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An Unconventional Place to Write

The room is bright from the wall of windows to my right. Outside the trees have not yet begun to put out buds, but there is something different about them. A color change of just a shade maybe two, to let you know they are definitely considering spring. Of course with a Nor’easter due to arrive in forty-eight hours, they just might want to hold that thought.

The grass outside between the building, the concrete sidewalk and New York Route 304 is still brown, it firmly believes it is still winter and is not about to put on any variation of green.

It is quiet for the moment. I have been given the luxury of a large, bright space all to myself. A very comfortable chair and several tables in which to choose to sit and write till my heart’s content. And here I am. My blog is due today, my own self-imposed deadline of writing one blog per month since the beginning of this writers life, I suppose you could say it was when I made the decision to become a writer, which for me began in 2012. Most months I have many ideas that have either presented themselves or I stumbled upon. Last month was one of my favorites when guest author Andrew Buckley allowed me to post his piece. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please do.

Yet this month, as I find myself in a comfortable place, with beautiful light and plenty of time, I sit in silence until the next roar of an engine starts up and my mind races.

You see, I am parked in a Harley Davidson dealership. Hudson Valley Harley Davidson to be precise. You do not have to be a motorcycle enthusiast to be welcomed here.  I’ve already had two different people offer to get me a cup of coffee, which is better than I make at home. When I take a walk among the rows of shining, powerful machines, more times than not an employee will walk with me. I love to hear their stories of when they started riding (so far the youngest was 4 years old), or that their grandfather is still riding at 82. The respect and understanding of what the machine can (and cannot) do and the horror of what can happen when a car refuses to share the road is terrifying.

It is a fascinating place to find oneself in.

Each of these motorcycles is uniquely different. The numbers mean something, the name given a place in history, a style, color, and accessories. From the generations of those who came before creating something that during wartime was functional, and in between the terror of conflict was fun, is in itself unique. I witnessed a young woman ride in on a Suzuki. Immediately there was playful banter of what she was doing here on that bike was quickly followed by hellos and hugs as they asked about her family, particularly her father who had ordered a part for his motorcycle that she was picking up. Which just happened to be a Harley touring bike. This is not just a members only mentality of one particular bike. It is a community of motorcycle riders. Perhaps that is why they are so busy here, people know that, respect it, relax and enjoy just being here. It is a family.

I refilled my coffee cup and sit on a Trike to people watch. The seat is roomy, the backrest comfortable. The Wicked Red is a color my mother would have loved. Across the vast showroom in the lounge area, there is an interview going on in motor clothes, new hires are needed before the season takes off. Nearby a saleswoman is showing a young man a bike, which I find particularly enjoyable. He tries to act cool, but when he asks her a question I could see his eyes widen. The girl knows her stuff. He tries to haggle with her, she quickly shuts him down and suggests when he’s ready to buy, he is welcome to come back. He blushes and apologizes, she offers him a coffee, he happily accepts. I hope to hear him ring a large bell near the entrance. The staff will play music, everyone claps and cheers as a proud customer pulls the rope that rings in the celebrated sound of ownership, which I am sure can be heard by the traffic outside.

Parts and service have several people asking when their bikes will be ready. You can tell the atmosphere is filled with checked impatience and sprinkled with anxious anticipation that the riding season is almost here. More than a few have ridden their bikes in today. I try to see if they’re wearing clothing with batteries, or are literally plugged into their bikes. Although it is 55 degrees and sunny, when you ride, take 10 degrees off automatically. Hmmm, yeah, that’s brisk.

Another customer has one of the staff open the showcases with jewelry displayed. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, belly button studs and more sparkle under the lights. Amidst the oohs and aahs she is having a conversation about how much she loves the selection. I watch as she gathers several pairs of boots to try on. Considering my guess of the total, she could have bought a very nice bike.

What is it they say here? Your story begins on the road.  Well, this story started on a quiet Wednesday afternoon on the last day of February 2018. Then roared forward with the start of an engine. If you are a writer, I hope you are inspired to find an unconventional place to sit and watch and write. You might be surprised how inspired you become.  This was a very productive day for me, I now have several new characters to place in current or future stories. But if you are not a writer, yet want to be a rider, I invite you to explore the world of motorcycles, please take a safety course (more than one is better) practice and ride rested. You can’t write or ride if you’re out of gas and kaput. Enjoy the journey!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

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THE ICE

Welcome to a very special Touched By Words ~ the journey of a writer January 2018 Blog.  This month I am tickled pink and honored to have two-time Emmy nominee, Master Mariner and op-ed columnist and Facebook friend Andrew Giles Buckley as my guest writer. Andrew and I have been chatting on FB, enjoying one another’s posts, humor, commentary by a variety of folks who have found the peace of mind to stay away from volatile topics these days, but stick to important issues, laugh, support and simply enjoy one another’s company. I was introduced to Andrew by fellow writer Serena Jewell. She knew I had fallen in love with Chatham MA last year and how important it became in finishing my first book. Andrew was kind enough to explain the significance of ‘the breach’ at the lighthouse and where to find information on the area. I look forward to his photographs, stories, and videos of the area, it takes me right back to one of the most beautiful places on the East Coast. So, bundle up, grab a cup of piping hot Cumberland Farms Mocha-Coffee (Andrew’s coffee of choice when reporting live daily from the Chatham Lighthouse!) and enjoy the read.

THE ICE

by Andrew Giles Buckley

A long stretch of light gray cloudy glass ran up the narrow inlet, thick and heavy. In the mild – as much as one should ever expect in early January, especially following a two week stretch of solidly-below 20-degree temperatures – air, the cool breeze from the southeast carried moisture.

Rain had been forecast for later, and on top of the still-frozen ground, created the danger of flooding. My gravel driveway had begun to thaw rapidly, to a point, and my foot moved upon a surface that felt like walnuts scattered upon cold brownie batter.

What was near 50 today and tomorrow would then become 24 degrees by the end of the day. Caught just wrong, it could be a flash-freeze creating endless swathes of black ice by the evening.

But that was tomorrow’s peril. What held my attention this morning was the state of Rock Harbor. I’d come here from my physical therapy appointment to heal my back injury-du-jour. Slippery surfaces were in my awareness, and now I was looking at a massive one.

A single sheet – no – a single layer of ice extended from the dock at the fish market down the channel to the end of the jetty and beyond, out into the bay. It was broken only by a thin line marking the pilings that runs parallel to the channel. There, another, narrower slab lay parallel, solid to the bulkhead.

Where I had once walked with friends, watching Sofie run along the docks below the parking lot, there was nothing. Nothing but the ice, brutal and blank in the gray sky it reflected glassily.

Certainly, I’ve seen ice before. Growing up on the Oyster Pond, I would wait and watch to see if it would freeze over in the winter. One very unusual Christmas, we managed to get snow the night before. I woke to find the salt water overnight covered by a blanket of snow. It may have been that winter when my father brought an ax and an eel pole and took me out onto the pond. The ice was a foot thick. And I still was amazed that by simply sticking the long pole into the mud, in the first hole, we snagged an eel.

There were winters when it never froze. That’s been my measure of how hard a winter it is. Did the OP freeze? And secondly, for how long? Three years ago, during the Winter From Hell, it stayed frozen throughMarch. But then, all the harbors froze and no one could get out to go clamming or quahogging. What we had this past NewYear’s was a mini-version of that, lest we forget.

The sudden warm-up and the rain had come to sweep and polish the surface of Rock Harbor. No snow remained. A thin layer of fresh water, being less dense than salt water, floated on top. I once tripped going up the main staircase at the StateHouse. Marble is very hard when applied directly to the knee. That’s what this harbor ice reminded me of. Beautiful, cold, indifferently dangerous.

This winter was forecast to be more mild than usual. It doesn’t feel so, but

February could bring daffodils for all we know now. This mis-projection by NOAA does not undercut their expertise as much as it does raise the increasing erratic nature of weather. While the eastern third of NorthAmerica was extremely cold for an extended period, the rest of the world was hitting record highs. Asphalt was melting

in Australia. It is not unconnected – the cold that would normally be in the rest of the world, and especially in the Arctic, got pushed down to us. The political ramifications when the center of world and economic policymaking is getting the exact opposite climate as the rest of the world is troubling.

If you don’t think politicians won’t make decisions based on what’s out the window you’ve never been to a ski resort in northernNew Hampshire in March. What if an unanticipated effect of climate change means we here get our own bubble of climate the polar opposite of everyone else on the planet?

It certainly won’t change sea level rise. That is happening. Tides on the shore are higher than when I was a kid, on regular basis. The flooding we saw in the Little Beach area of Chatham was bound to happen, but no one thought this soon.

Maybe during a tropical hurricane, not followed by ice floes.

With the decimation of our barrier beach system, now flattened and scattered to the south and west, we’re exposed like never before to the Atlantic. Summer and winter. All the time. This is the New Normal.

These are the facts. The water is higher and getting higher. We’re going to feel that. Even if it’s colder here, it is hotter everywhere else. Whether we choose to believe it makes no matter to the ocean that covers most of this planet. It will come for us, the shore dwellers, indifferently.

If not with blistering heat, then solidly in ice.

capecodchronicle.com.

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