Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Journal Part 2

* PART 2: Hurricane Irma journal. *
I have never experienced a hurricane, only the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake, which pales in comparison, although no less frightening or devastating. The aftermath of Irma was more destruction than I could have ever imagined. There was an eerie stillness to each day, whether it be morning or evening. No singing birds, splashing fish or the familiar croak of the tree frogs. Streets once humming with cars, pedestrians and four legged friends were unrecognizable as they sat alone in the unmoving air. It was a deserted feeling as if we were the only humans here.
Where to begin was overwhelming, so we jumped in, first cleaning the foyer ripping out wet and moldy carpet then clearing debris from the yard hauling it to the street. The small group of us who either stayed and weathered the storm or returned the minute we were able, became bonded in a way that can only be described as family. Working together under conditions we would never wish on anyone, yet knowing we couldn’t stop until each was taken care of, felt safe.
It was easy to get side tracked, as I often did, picking up something along the way to or from the garbage, trying to find the missing match to items scattered in the yard, moving and clearing paths around the house and street, an urgency in my mind about how it should look, but no way to move fast enough or with enough strength to accomplish this goal. “Baby steps,” as Scott would say. Picking one area to clean and seeing it through like taking a chainsaw to the fallen trees or pulling bait pens from the canal.
Helping our neighborhood, our friends and family who were more adversely affected, became not a question of “Do you think they need help,” but rather, “How fast can I work and move on to the next project.” Cleaning out refrigerators, shoveling gray mud out of houses, combing through debris to gather valuables all the while wondering, “Will life ever feel normal?”
Every conversation and greeting became, “How did your house make out? What can I do to help?” skipping the salutation and going straight in for a hug. Assuring each other with the unspoken words, “You’re not alone.” If nothing else, I hoped to be an ear, someone others could blow off steam to, yet I still felt helpless, unable to fix the bigger issues such as lack of housing or work.
September 20, 2017 – Jonathan spent the morning cleaning out the water meter boxes for each house on the block as we’d heard water service may be turned on for us today and sure enough, it was! The boil water advisory was still in effect, but without power we couldn’t, so relied heavily on bottled water.
Daily trips to Big Pine for ice and water became the norm as did cold showers since our hot water heater was found in the canal. It was quite refreshing as the heat and humidity in the house was overbearing. Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time indoors the first week back or the second or third. You get the idea.
I will never forget the day the Red Cross arrived. Perhaps I speak for others as well when I say the generosity brought me to tears on many occasion. The outpouring of assistance in the form of tools, cleaning supplies, food, clothing and more was beyond anything I could have imagined. They drove through neighborhoods delivering meals as well as set-up tents throughout the Keys giving residents cash cards.
I wish I could remember and thank all of the companies and relief organizations who came and spent time in the keys. Geico provided water while assessing auto damage on the spot, Verizon brought a satellite truck and provided free phones and WIFI inside their air conditioned tent, The Army Corps of Engineers applied blue tarps to those whose roofs were missing or leaking, The National Guard cleaned and hauled debris, Mormon Helping Hands also provided debris removal in teams of thirty or more people moving from street to street in selfless service, Billy Graham Ministries as well as Baptist relief organizations provided food, water, ice and more, The United Way provided gift cards for gasoline and building supplies plus many more.
We were also blessed with strangers who drove from the mainland and delivered supplies door-to-door through the neighborhoods stopping to ask what we needed and how they could help. We directed them to elderly neighbors or those we knew had lost their homes feeling fortunate to have a place to lay our heads each night.
That’s when I listened for the familiar sound of the tree frogs, yet without their favorite trees standing I knew it might be awhile before the familiar high pitched calls would make me sit up in the middle of the night and wonder, “Are they talking?”
Until then, I’ll wait.🌸

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Journal Part 1

* PART 1: Hurricane Irma journal. *

Well, it’s been one amazing ride these past five weeks! Irma gave us a run for our money, but followed us to Naples where we were hit hard as well, including the shattering of my car’s rear window. Without power, water or Internet service and zero to “spotty” cell service, I gave up on posting to social media focusing instead on how to get a text to friends and family members relying on them to relay what was happening in the outside world while wondering what, if anything, we may have left to return to in the Keys. We stayed a week relying on the kindness of friends waiting to see when US 1 would reopen to residents, but realized it would be awhile as the devastation was indescribable. Without services, we headed to Miami to spend a few days with a new friend, the man we adopted our dog from, Bert. Scott was able to use Internet to fulfill online orders and remain in good standing with the outlets hosting his online stores before turning them off again as we loaded up and headed for home.

We couldn’t stay away from the place we love so much, even after considering a temporary move until things were back to “normal.” It was as if the islands were calling us, waiting for help, hoping friendly faces would return, so we did. Putting our decision to leave the keys for northern ground aside, we loaded the rental van, re-taped the shower curtain over my rear window, loaded up a spunky 9 year-old and two hurricane hounds and set a course for Cudjoe Key.

September 18, 2017 – US 1 had finally reopened to lower keys residents and our anticipation grew with every mile traveled. Loading up on supplies in Homestead, we chased the late afternoon sun trying to beat the curfew and a possible camp out in the van.

A wave of relief came over me as we entered the 18 mile stretch, the familiar blue barriers feeling like open outstretched arms. Then came Key Largo and the signs, “Welcome home lower keys residents, You can’t drown a conch!” brought tears to my eyes. To the sign maker’s, who ever you are, thank you!
Every mile closer to home made my adrenaline rise. We knew what we were facing as family and friends had been sending photos of our place, taking care to empty refrigerators, remove trash, open windows to allow air flow, remove debris so we could park our vehicles and so much more! Thank you Chachi, John, Ginger, Tim, Ron, Charles Fricke, Ken and Tom Fricke!

As the sky turned to dusk, we arrived at our home, the few palms left standing in a mournful state looking over their fallen friends, some hanging over power lines. The beloved mango tree, which had produced the most delicious fruit two times this spring, was leaning almost to the ground its roots half exposed, every leaf brown and brittle. The sapodilla tree in the backyard was entirely uprooted and laying across the fence, its branches entangled in the mango tree as holding one another’s leafy hands in hopes of surviving the storm.

Entering the house we were welcomed by a wave of heat and gray mud in the downstairs foyer. The smell was likened to a mix of sewage and sea grass, but we gladly climbed the stairs to our familiar space. Assessing the damage: shattered window, sagging sheet rock in the living room and sea grass debris, we quickly set-up a space in the living room in which to “camp.”
We’d purchased our own generator and brought twenty-five gallons of gas with us to power fans, the refrigerator and a lamp. The hum of this tiny machine is a sound I will never forget. The neighborhood was filled with this same music, the song of survival.

Third Grade Sight Words Color Trace Connect the Dots - HeatherRoss.net

Let’s Color Words!

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New York Central Park in November

Memom and the Leaves of Love

I haven’t tried to write a poem in a long time, but I’m sitting here making a video of my grandmother, we called her Memom, and wondering if I can write something remotely descent to go with a picture I drew with my son yesterday.

I asked him if he’d like to draw a picture for Memom and explained she had died and was with God. He asked, “How do you be with God?” I could only think to reply, “being with God is when you feel the warmest, most loved, happiest.” He replied, “like in the pool?” I said, “sure, like in the pool.” I’m sure my explanation leaves much to the imagination. I know it does to mine.

Words In Color – Chapter 4

Read the intro to Words In Color here.

Stevie Nicks, Edge of Seventeen

Words In Color – Chapter 4

“Where ya headed off to?” Amity’s mom looked up from her crochet on the couch.

“Uh, out..side. Just gonna star watch…a bit.” The words hung on Amity’s tongue making her sound less than honest.

Her mom nodded and smiled, a twinkle in her eye as her hands continued to loop the yarn unsupervised.

“That’s my star gazer.” Amity’s dad grinned from the opposite side of the room where he sat watching TV. It used to be he’d jump up to go with her setting up the scope in just the right position on top of the carport roof. She had him to thank for her deep seeded interest in all things stellar even if his enthusiasm had fizzled in the wake of game shows and light beer.

Closing the door behind her, Amity waited a minute, hoping neither parent followed, but more than that trying to calm her nerves.

“Just breathe,” she whispered to herself, then rubbed her sweaty palms against her jeans and stepped out. Amity hoped it would be cooler than the balmy eighty degrees creeping up the back of her neck, but was thankful for the descending darkness, a veil over the rings of sweat expanding under her arms.

Dustin stood in the same spot next to his drawing rolling a piece of chalk in his fingers. A gentle grin spread across his lips at the sight of her. Amity couldn’t help smiling under his gaze as she stopped in front of him.

“Hi.” His voice was deeper than she’d imagined, which made her think he must be older than her.

“Hi.” Amity hadn’t intended to whisper and figured it was a subconscious reaction to her parents being twenty feet away.

The pair stood and looked at each other then at the ground, then back to each other. Amity thought it felt just like an episode from a Jane Austen book.

“I really like your drawings.” Amity sounded nervous and why shouldn’t she. Her insides were trembling as if she were freezing cold.

“Thanks. I like your writing,” Dustin replied with a half smile.

“Really? Thanks.” She debated explaining how this particular poem took forever to write, but decided to save it until she knew he could handle her babbling.

“Yeah. Where’d you learn to write like that?” Dustin looked genuinely interested.

“Well, I didn’t really learn it, like in a class or something. Just started writing one day after reading a book with a horrible ending. It’s kind of therapeutic, writing. Like if I’ve had a bad day or something interests me I just start writing my feelings down. Eventually they turn into stories or poems or just thoughts. Sometimes, if I really want to make an impression I’ll research certain subjects.” Amity caught herself. She was babbling. It was exactly what she didn’t want to do, but Dustin’s expression, posture, eyes, were so open like he actually wanted to hear.

“Cool.” He smiled broadly. Amity thought he could almost see into her soul the way he looked into her eyes.

“So what about you? How did you learn to draw?”

Dustin looked down at the panther’s as if they might give him the answer. Amity thought a look of sadness crept over his face, but in the shadows, couldn’t be sure.

“Not sure. I just woke up one day and started drawing.” His answer seemed simple. So simple it made her feel stupid for asking.

“Weird, huh?” He must have noticed Amity nodding, a look of confusion on her face.

“No, not at all.” She stammered. “I just figured this kind of talent must have been learned to some degree, but when I think about it, there’s no way someone could learn to draw this way. Could they? I don’t think so, but again I don’t know. I don’t think I could, but that’s just me.” Amity stop talking, she said to herself ending the rant before it became a full fledged monologue.

Dustin chuckled. “Sure you could. You just have to practice.” Amity thought he was just being nice, but appreciated the gesture.

“No, I’m pretty sure you’re born with these skills.” She dropped her eyes to his drawing.

“Probably, just like you were born with writing skills.” Dustin’s compliment gave her that warm feeling in her stomach. She wanted to debate learning to write since that’s what every English class was based on, that and reading books no less than a hundred years old.

“So, how do you decide what to draw? What’s your inspiration?” Amity hoped she wasn’t being too nosy, but thought it a valid question, one that would extend her time with him.

“Sometimes I draw things I’ve seen in books or on TV. Sometimes people I’ve seen or maybe combinations of people.” Dustin smiled as he studied her face wishing the light was better.

“Combinations? Sounds interesting, like pizza.” Amity imagined his mind worked like a Mr. Potato Head toy plugging traits from one person onto another.

Dustin laughed. “Yeah, but not as tasty.” He thought her quirky sense of humor fit her name.

The thought of eating brought Amity’s attention to Dustin’s mouth. His lips reminded her of puffy marshmallows in the shape of a heart perched peacefully under his nose.

Dustin bit his bottom lip under the scrutiny. He’d always felt like his mouth was a bit oversized for his face, so sometimes rolled his lips inward hoping they’d somehow melt under the pressure.

“You wanna walk?” He motioned his head toward the end of the courtyard.

“Sure.” Amity answered before thinking twice about walking with a stranger, at night no less, but in her heart she didn’t feel anything strange about him.

Dustin grinned as they turned and started to the far end of the complex. It wasn’t a long walk, maybe two or three minutes, but Amity aimed to make it longer shuffling her feet like a toddler.

“So, where are you from? Any brothers or sisters? What do your parent’s do?” Amity knew she sounded like a reporter, but she wanted to know everything about Dustin.

He stifled a full fledged laugh, a bit taken aback at her jump into this personal line of questioning. “Are you writing my life story?”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend you.” Amity looked down at her sandals.

“I’m not offended.” He smiled into her eyes. She thought for a second they looked the deepest shade of brown, but as he tilted his head toward the street lamp she could tell they were an orange eerily similar to that of the panther’s.

His gaze made her nervous causing a trickle of sweat to escape from under her arm and trace a path to her elbow. She quickly rubbed her arm against her side pretending to scratch her back. Dustin seemed not to notice.

“I’m from Oregon. I’m an only child. My dad works for the airline’s and my mom’s…” He hesitated looking off in the distance as if his mom might appear and save him from the painful admission. Amity watched him wondering if he might finish or leave her to decide for herself.

“My mom lives in New York.” Dustin looked Amity square in the eye, a solemn expression on his face. He wanted to hide the fact that his parents were separated, but couldn’t stand the thought of losing another friend when the truth came out. He didn’t know what it was, but every time he came clean it was like he had the plague losing friends over the course of a few weeks, sometimes days. No, he couldn’t wait to tell Amity. If she were going to reject him then he’d rather have her do it before they were friends and he really hoped they would be, friends.

Amity watched his face for a minute then smiled, “I heard Central Park is pretty cool, but they can’t see the stars like we can.”

A feeling of relief soaked Dustin to the core. “Really? Good to know.”

“Yeah, too many city lights not to mention the smog.” Amity grinned wide. He thought for a second how cute she looked with her cheeks all puffed out. “Take for instance those stars there,” she held her arm in the air and pointed toward a cluster of bright twinkling lights.

Dustin raised his head to the sky, “Orion.”

“How’d you know?” Amity sounded shocked and impressed at the same time.

“I like to read. Plus, Oregon has an even better view.” He winked at her, a sly smile on his face.

Amity felt her heart skip a beat. She thought Dustin might be too good to be true. What she didn’t know is that he thought the same about her.

~ **** ~

Chapter 3

Words In Color – Chapter 3

Read the intro to Words In Color here.

Goo Goo Dolls, Here Is Gone

Words In Color – Chapter 3

Amity awoke to a beam of sunlight, like a laser, across her eyes. She raised up on an elbow squinting at the curtains, which she was certain she’d pulled closed last night, and noticed a small crack in the fabric. Small maybe to the naked eye, but under direct sunlight she thought it more like a huge gap.

“Musta forgot to pull ’em all the way last night,” she mumbled laying back on her pillow. Amity always left her curtains open until she could see the moon. Then sat on the chest under her window and watched it, glowing, breathing, pulling words from her. Words likened to prayers. It was a ritual she’d started as a little girl after her dad brought home a telescope. She still remembered the bruise in the shape of a circle around her eye from staring at the moon for so long.

Rolling to face the opposite wall she decided the curtain adjustment could wait. Besides, it was Saturday and she wasn’t getting out of bed before nine.

Holding her eyes tightly shut she tried to re-enter her dream: angels floating in the sky singing the words she’d written to Dustin while he sketched for her. Wacky she knew, but she could live with that as long as he was in it.

His eyes so kind, smiling at her while he drew images that magically appeared in the sky – a bear, elephant, butterfly. She thought it odd how he never took his eyes from her and yet all of his drawings were perfect, “Just like him,” she smiled at his image in her mind.

As she dozed, a spark of sunshine hit Amity in the face reflected off of a silver bracelet hanging over the side of her dresser.

“Oh, come on!” She sat up throwing the covers off. Stomping to the window she geared up to show the curtains who was boss. Grabbing the fabric edge of each, she yanked them together pulling not only across, but down. This proved a strain on the already bowing bar responsible for upholding the heavy window treatments, which caved under the pressure landing in a heap at her feet.

“My God. Really?” Amity thought the situation could’ve been a Murphy’s Law shoe-in had the bar actually hit her on the way down. She kicked the heap off her feet and resigned herself to the fact that the universe obviously wanted her awake.

Stepping to the window she cupped a hand over her eyes and looked out across the grassy lawn. Sometimes she spotted the French dog, for lack of a better title, who took it upon himself to go number two on the sidewalk just like the dogs in France at least that’s what her friend Sasha said. She wondered how she’d managed to avoid stepping in a steaming pile and chalked it up to the fact the dog was so fat he couldn’t waddle to this side of the courtyard.

Sliding open the window Amity breathed in the scent of the morning, fresh and dewy, before the sun strangled it with a deathly heat. Raising her arms she arched her back and stretched as high as she could, then lowered her hands to the window sill as her eyes came to rest on the sidewalk below. She thought for a minute she’d left her blanket outside, which was now on the sidewalk looking like a heap of dirt. Moving to the side peering only through the glass, Amity caught her breath, “Another drawing from Dustin,” she whispered, the warmth of her breath fogging the window.

Her heart raced as she turned to throw on clothes and get a better look. Bolting down the stairs, she stumbled on the second to last step and almost went head long into the front door, but managed to grab the banister and correct herself before spraining her ankle, a talent she’d perfected at least a dozen times in the last six months.

“Well you’re up early for a weekend.” The voice of Amity’s mother caught her by surprise.

“Yeah, well you know what they say.” She tried to slow her pace and excitement. The last thing she needed was her mother standing beside her wondering who’d drawn the graffiti in the middle of the night.

“No, what do they say?” A look of intrigue spread across her mother’s face.

“Uh, the early worm gets a head start on the bird.” Or whatever the saying was, she thought.

“Good one! I’ll make that the quote of the day on my Facebook page.” The statement made Amity flinch and by the look on her mom’s face, she knew she was serious.

“Please don’t. Isn’t there some old people stuff you can post?” She didn’t really mind her mom quoting her, it was the whole “I’m so hip because I post on Facebook” attitude that made her a little nauseous.

Her mom pursed her lips and wrinkled her nose as if she were thinking then said, “Naw, besides I’m not as witty as you are.” She flashed a smile at Amity who rolled her eyes while silently accepting the compliment.

“I’ll be back in a minute.” Amity reached for the door maybe a little too eager as she pulled against the lock still firmly in place.

“Where ya goin’ in such a rush?” Her mom sounded concerned.

“Just outside for a second. I think I forgot something.” Amity finally twisted the dead bolt open and was out the door before her mom got on a full roll with twenty questions.

Approaching the chalk drawing Amity’s hunch was confirmed, it was indeed a black panther, in a standing position, a cub between its front legs. Behind them a setting sun in hues of orange, yellow and red, made the cats seem all the more black as they popped from the picture in 3D style. Every muscle was outlined with such precision, every facial detail highlighted making the animals seem as real as if they were standing right there. The mother’s orange eyes stared at her as if trying to tell her something yet at the same time, looking right through her.

“Black panther’s,” Amity mused to herself. She’d read about their symbolism some time ago in a history book. Now what was it about them, she wondered. She remembered the guardian part, ability to know the dark, which she found kind of redundant given its black color and the fact it was a cat, then there was something about it symbolizing the feminine. She knew there was more, but for the life of her couldn’t think, not now.

Her mind was blank standing their in awe over their beauty, their silky black bodies reminding her of Dustin’s hair. Amity’s heart skipped a beat realizing the location again, just under her window. She felt her cheeks flame with embarrassment at the thought of him creating this especially for her, in the middle of the night, while she slept.

Images of Romeo and Juliet floated in her mind as she pictured the scene, a smile gracing her lips. Realizing she probably looked like a romantic idiot she quickly scanned the courtyard for his face and was relived not to see him. She looked a mess and felt sure her complexion matched the red Coca-Cola t-shirt she was wearing.

Heading inside she made a b-line for her bedroom where she pulled books from her shelf detailing symbolism, mysticism and ancient tribes. Pouring over each she soaked up everything she could find, and make sense out of as it pertained to black panthers, feverishly jotting notes in her journal. She had to respond to his effort, but she wanted it to be deeper believing it only fair since he’d shared a piece of himself through his creation.

Moving to her window Amity peered at the drawing again. “So powerful,” she thought. She found it interesting he depicted the mother in a stance that evoked protection yet the look in the cub’s eyes seemed somehow fearful maybe of something in her. Crouched low its head tilted up toward her face, its eyes questioning, even pleading.

Squinting Amity noticed one of its small paws wrapped around the outside of the mother’s leg as if trying to hold on, stop her from moving. “A piece of him,” she whispered to herself.

 ~****~

 I move through the darkness, welcome its solace, bask in the solitude. Here I find the light, one which once I did not understand being of great sorrow and fear. Yet time has opened my eyes, awakened my senses, allowed reclamation of a hope I’d exchanged for death. From the night I emerge, feeding on knowledge, blessed with truth, graced with power.

Amity wondered when Dustin would come as she stood looking out her window. It had taken her five hours to write the four lines, but that was nothing compared to the painstaking thirty minutes it took her to scrawl it next to his drawing. She’d like to blame it on the chalk, but really it was her fingers or more precisely, her nerves.

She second guessed almost every syllable she wrote wondering if it made any sense or, more importantly, expressed what she felt about him. Well not really him because she didn’t know him, but the him she saw in his drawings.

Amity didn’t want to miss Dustin reading her poem, almost as romantic as him drawing for her, so sat on the chest under her window, eyes glued to the courtyard. She tried to read, but quickly tired of losing her place between glancing out the window and fantasizing about seeing him, not to mention, re-reading line after line.

It was almost seven before he returned. Spotting his black hair, she caught her breath and sat up straight looking over the side of the window sill just enough to see him. Wearing khaki cargo pants and a white button down shirt rolled up at the elbows, she thought him a vision of perfection.

He stood over her poem then knelt in front of it as if to get a better view. Amity had to admit, she did write smaller this time trying to fit all of the words in one cement square.

Dustin looked up at the window and caught Amity staring. Her face went hot. She debated ducking out of sight, but decided against it. He smiled at her then waved. Amity returned the gesture. For a few seconds they just stared at each other, grins on their faces, unsure of what to do next. Then he motioned for her to come down.

Amity’s eyes bulged, “Us, meeting face to face?” The thought made her sick with excitement, but there was nothing she wanted more.

 ~****~

Chapter 2                                                                             Chapter 4

Words From The Water – Photo 3

I love the beach! I’m lucky to live close enough I can visit often, even everyday, without getting sick of it and once I let go of my obsessive “clean car” idea the sand doesn’t bother me (so much).

Funny, but I find the sound of the waves not only calming, but inspirational. Well, the sound of water moving pretty much anywhere even the kitchen sink. I’m not sure why, but my mind seems to kick into creative gear, ideas emerge, story lines pan out and words are in over drive. Too bad I don’t have pen and paper when most of this inspiration is occurring, but it wouldn’t matter if I did because who can read words dripping off the page?

One way I take the inspiration with me is through photographs. If I’m stuck wondering, “What was that idea I had today?” I look back at the photos and sometimes video. It helps keep me moving forward and at the same time reminds me of where I’ve been.

Being at the beach is a sensation I think everyone should experience at least once in their lives. It’s such an amazing feeling to hear the waves, see them move, experience their power. I would say it’s magnetic, the pull the ocean has on some people, me being one of them. Not just physically, but mentally. It’s like the words float from the sea into my brain. Now, if only I could bottle that and bring it home.

Words In Color – Chapter 2

Read the intro to Words In Color here.

Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan – Silence

Words In Color – Chapter 2

In the still of my world, when the turmoil called my life seems, at last, unbearable, I wrap myself in the one saving grace I own. One day, they’ll take me far from here, show me truth, teach me love, give me peace.

Dustin stood over his drawing in the parking lot reading the words for the umpteenth time digesting every syllable as if it were the water of life. He hadn’t expected her to reply, except for maybe a “Hi,” but she had and written a poem no less. A smile parted his lips as he read her name, Amity. It reminded him of the horror movie. He shuddered to think a parent would name their kid after such a horrible thing. “Poor girl, no wonder she’s like a hermit,” he thought.

He’d noticed her a few months back when he moved here. Another apartment to add to his sketch book of broken promises, right behind the promise of a house with a yard big enough for a dog, a bike and set of oil paints, but that was before everything went to hell. Before his mom left.

Dustin didn’t half blame her. If she would’ve asked him to go with her, he would have, tired of the screaming arguments, the tension, the sadness. Now there was just sadness mixed with the occasional tension about his grades and why they weren’t higher than their regular A and B status.

Turning toward her apartment Dustin wondered if Amity were even there, maybe watching him out the window. Not that he knew which window was hers, but guessed it was the one upstairs, just like his. He squinted trying to get a better view through the darkness, but quickly decided it was too late for anyone to be up doing anything, much less observing the grounds.

This was his favorite time to be out, eleven or later. No one to bother you, no over bearing heat to make you wish you were dead and no sound. The silence was his peace, not that he didn’t get it at home, but this was different. This silence made him feel alive as though within his being began to grow the person he really was, wanted to be.

Visions of paintings, sketches, sculptures floated through his mind each distinctly different, but all his creation. He took out his chalk, knelt to the ground and studied the surface. The sidewalk was smooth. Better than the carport, but more foot traffic. He could only hope the dyslexic dog didn’t choose this spot to leave his deposit, a horror Dustin discovered a few weeks ago when exiting his apartment in a rush to get to school. He still couldn’t figure out why the dog went on the sidewalk instead of stepping four inches into the grass.

He remembered how the day stunk, literally. Without an extra set of shoes he was stuck. Wiping it in the grass didn’t help except to push it further into the grooves on the bottom of his Vans. Even turning the hose on it seemed a waste of time given the water pressure wouldn’t go higher than a dribble. So off he’d gone to school, soggy shoe smelling of dog poo. If there was anything that said, “Stay away from me,” louder than that, Dustin didn’t know what it could be.

Pulling an orange piece of chalk from a small case he began to draw. For some reason he thought of his mom. He wondered where she was. Thirteen months and three days ago she’d sent a postcard from New York. Her words seemed light and airy, “Getting to know the city. It’s so beautiful! Can’t wait for you to come visit.” Visit. The word made him feel less a part of her life than he ever had. Did she really only think of him as a visitor? The thought made him pause remembering the picture on the card, an aerial shot of Central Park. Sure it looked pretty, but there were lots of parks where they lived in Oregon. Heck, who needed a park when the entire forest was your backyard, Dustin wondered.

Putting a knee down and stretching his arm as far as he could to the left, he finished the outline of the drawing, which now spanned two and a half sidewalk squares. Next he grabbed white and started another sketch in the center. His hand flowed freely as if he were tracing lines already on the ground.

Dustin wasn’t sure why he could draw the pictures in his mind, he just knew that if he didn’t he couldn’t focus on anything else. They were like firefly’s trapped in a jar aimlessly throwing themselves against the glass until someone let them out. Sometimes he thought it a curse, up all night drawing until his hand hurt so bad he couldn’t even do his homework. Yet he felt somehow fulfilled if not relieved, to give them life.

The cool air felt good on the back of his neck. He leaned on his hand and looked up at Amity’s window. For a second, he thought he saw the faintest flicker of light, but decided it was a reflection of the street lamp in the window. Grabbing a handful of chalk he began to fill in the sketch using various colors. He liked this chalk. It actually stuck pretty well without smearing.

Dustin worked peacefully filling in details and accents from his vision. Finishing the final touches he heard a rustling in the bushes. Turning from his work he strained to see who or what it could be. The light was horrible and his eyes were having a hard time adjusting, but whatever it was couldn’t be bigger than a cat.

“Probably after a mouse,” Dustin thought returning to his work. Not more than a few minutes later the noise maker made itself known running across the chalk art leaving muddy footprints in its wake.

“Damn it!” Dustin whispered under his breath looking after the cat as if it might offer an apology.

Licking his finger he began to rub the mud off wiping it on the grass. Luckily it was mainly across the top of the sketch, but still annoying. He managed to get most of it off then colored over it using the orange chalk again, which didn’t entirely hide the obvious paw prints, but he hoped she didn’t notice.

Dustin sat back and looked at his creation. He nodded, a grin on his face. He was pleased despite the cat’s contribution. He laid back on the grass, his hands behind his head, and looked up again at Amity’s window. He wondered what she might do when she saw it and wished he could see her when she did. For a minute he debated spying on her, but decided it was dumb since he had no idea when she woke or came outside.

Laying in the still dark night Dustin was reminded of his home in Oregon. It wasn’t odd for him to sleep outside in the summer, alone, under the stars with only a blanket. After getting the hammock it was even easier. He could fall asleep right now if he wasn’t afraid Amity would find him under her window in the morning, drool running down his face.

The thought spurred him to collect his chalk and head home. As he stood to leave he looked toward her window one last time and smiled as if she were watching him through the curtains. He turned to leave contemplating when he should come back to check on his drawing and not for more paw prints.

~****~

Chapter 1

Words In Color – Chapter 1

Read the intro to Words In Color here.

Jason Mraz – You And I Both

Words In Color – Chapter 1

Amity leaned her head back against the wall of the apartment building. It was hot. Even in the shade she was sweating like a pig. She wished for a pool, a real one, not the one she created sitting on the vinyl couch suffocating under the glory of a swamp cooler. She’d never been in a steam room before, but guessed it was similar to the feeling in her apartment.

“Sit in the flower bed. It’s not as hot.” Her mom had said, but the thought of creepy crawlies and dirt on her butt wasn’t all that appealing, so she took an old blanket and spread it out as far as she could on either side of her. So far, it was working aside from the June bug that dive bombed her right eye.

Then she saw him. It had been awhile, but there he was, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the carport holding a book in one hand while the other scribbled quickly with what looked like a pencil. She wondered what he was writing, but didn’t have the nerve to ask, so, watched. She was good at that particularly when her subject didn’t know she was there, watching.

He put the book and pencil down then pulled something from his pocket and began marking on the ground of the parking lot.

“Hm, a guy who still likes to doodle with chalk,” Amity thought. For a second she classified it as juvenile, but decided if chalk were available right now she’d be doodling aimlessly on the ground too even if she was on the verge of sixteen.

She found herself mesmerized by him, so intent on what he was doing, drawing. His black hair glinted in the sunlight as he leaned back rolled his shoulders then stretched his bronze arms overhead and looked behind him. Their eyes met as if magnetically bound. Amity froze caught in his stare, but more than that, caught staring. He did a double take and sent a sideways grin before she brought her book up between them.

“Geez! That was embarrassing,” Amity said under her breath. She searched for the place she’d left off reading, but the words seemed unfamiliar as if she’d never seen them. A fact she knew to be untrue as she’d read The Black Stallion at least fifty times.

Amity lowered the book a hair to see if he’d gone back to drawing. He had.

“Oh good. He’s forgotten about me,” she thought surveilling him once again. This time she kept the book perched on her knees to make it look as if she were really reading, but lowered it just enough to see him over the edge.

The boy looked over his shoulder again studying her, maybe trying to decide if she were really reading instead of drilling a hole in the back of his head with her eyes. Standing, he turned facing her then crouched low and continued to draw. Every now and then he’d look up, even paused once for a few minutes and stared in her direction, his almond shaped eyes daring her to look at him for longer than a blink. Amity made sure to turn a page, or two, giving the impression she was, in fact, reading.

After what seemed like forever, but not long enough, he stood, picked up his notebook, smiled at her and walked away. She grinned behind her own book, but doubted he saw being at least forty feet away.

“I hope he doesn’t think I’m infatuated with him,” Amity thought as she watched him disappear around a corner. The truth was, she could hardly keep her eyes from him the whole time he was out here and that went for anytime he was out here, so she guessed infatuated might be appropriate.

Amity waited a few minutes remaining in her position. She wanted to see what he’d drawn, but couldn’t chance him swinging back around and catching her in the act. Not that it would be horrible if he did, catch her. It wasn’t like she didn’t have any business in that area, which she didn’t, but she couldn’t wait until her dad got home and parked over it. A tragedy marked by dripping oil and tire tread.

Finally, she closed her book and stood, making her way slowly to the carport while keeping her eyes fixed in the direction he’d walked. Her heart raced. What would she do, say, if he showed up? She wondered. She thought herself horrible with words, well saying them. She was better at reading them and had a certain knack for writing them, but coming out of her mouth, not good.

She reached the edge of the sidewalk where he’d been working and stopped. It was like nothing she’d ever seen. A beautiful angel, her wings wrapped around her in an embrace, eyes closed in a silent solace as she leaned one side of her face into the feathery pillow. The detail of her being was amazing. She wondered what kind of chalk he’d used to draw such precise features, but decided it wasn’t the chalk to be in awe over.

Her eyes traced the wings, their realistic beauty moving her to reach down and stroke them. She rubbed the dust between her fingers as if it might tell her something about the sketch, the artist, then continued tracing the outline to the bottom. Scrawled in a half circle under a wing was his name, “Dustin Knight.” Amity repeated it in her head a million times further engraving it on her memory. That’s when she saw it, the message, just below his name, two letters, “Hi,” with a smiley face below.

It was already a hundred degrees outside, but she felt her temperature rise another twenty knowing he’d probably written the message for her, the mute girl in the corner pretending to be a statue when she really wanted to be next to him. Embarrassed, Amity jerked her head up quickly glancing around expecting to see him spying on her around a corner, but he was nowhere in sight.

Taking a breath, she relaxed enough to notice he’d left a piece of chalk next to the message, so did what came naturally – wrote back.

~****~

Chapter 2

 

 

Bees and Me, Photo 2

I took a walk in my grandmother’s backyard and was surprised to hear the buzzing of bees in her Macadamia Nut tree. It was so loud I thought, “There must be a hive up there.” So, I ducked under the branches and hanging blossoms looking high above me, but I couldn’t see anything that looked remotely similar to a hive. Couldn’t see much really, except a lot of branches. At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, she’s dumb.” Rest assured, I do know bees sting when guarding their hive I just wasn’t afraid at that moment. Go figure.

Anyway, bees were flying all around me, but were too concerned with the tiny blossoms on the tree to sting me. Good thing because I think I’m allergic to bees. Can’t remember. (Again, not dumb just not afraid.) The bees landed with such precision on the blossoms. There were thousands of them, all over the tree, some open others still closed and tiny! The tiniest blossoms I’ve ever seen. So pretty!

I finally talked a few bees into posing for me, which was great because I was tired of seeing “abdomen” in all of the shots, if you know what I mean. I had to be fast because they were so busy. They hardly ever stopped moving!

Watching their nectar gathering made me think how bees (and all other insects/animals) have a task by nature. They do what they’re supposed to do, constantly. They don’t take a break or ditch out on their bee buddies to watch TV then make excuses later. I realized I need to take a lesson from the bees and keep doing what I do, writing. Whether it’s my nature or not is debatable, but I have to believe it is or it becomes just a hobby. Will I produce a product as sweet as the bees? I can only hope! 🙂

Bee sucking nectar from Macadamia Nut blossom