The whirling weeks have left me vaguely unsettled, looking for what I have “accomplished.” I am used to measuring that in terms of word count, and I don’t have many of those. Rather than wallow in guilt, perhaps word count is the wrong measurement. I decided to look back and ask, “What happened?” And specifically, “Where did I find joy?”
While I listened to the talented Lia Frederick bring my characters to life in an audio book version of *House of Rose (the first in a trilogy about a police officer who discovers she’s a witch), I pulled the grass/clover/weeds out of the moss on the brick walkway. You might call this gardening. I call it a Zen exercise.
[* Contact me at TK@tkthorne.com to get a promo code for a free copy of this audiobook!]
During the early stress-filled days of the Pandemic, I found weeding the moss calming. It requires concentration (if you pull wantonly, the moss will pull up too; if you are lazy, other plants will take over.) One of the encroachers was a tiny flower with a deep violet base and translucent blue-white petals, perhaps large enough for an ant’s umbrella—a Japanese Mazus. I left it in the moss.
Two + decades ago, I worked in the Birmingham Police Department with two dear friends, Becky and Juanita. Becky recently had a hip replacement, and Juanita stepped up to be a full-time care-taker. (A lesson about the meaning of Love!) We visit regularly, and our tales ensure a lot of laughter, the good kind that runs deep as a river between us. Becky’s husband died not that long ago, and she asked me for a painting based on a photo he had taken on a special day. The photo is beautiful, a solitary duck and crimson reflections in the water of (unseen) day lillies on the bank above. Here is first stab at it:
The Left Coast Crime conference in Albuquerque, NM, was a mixture of delight in being with people and anxiety at the crowd after the last two years of isolating and masking. The highlight was being with my friends, Vikki and Kevin who were experiencing a writing conference for the first time. Also loved meeting fellow Stiletto Gang members, Donnell Ann Bell and Dru Ann Love. Didn’t get to talk much with Dru Ann (who was always surrounded by admirers!), but I sat at Donnell’s table at the banquet, and she kindly offered a ride to the airport, so we got to chat a bit, enough to know what a kind, generous person she is and hope our friendship grows.
Also enjoyed extended conversations about writing and law enforcement stuff with fellow panelists and police crime writers—James L’Etoile, Frank Zafiro, Dana King (and his wife, Corky), and Colin Conway. The best part of conferences is the people!
Brushed tangles from Foxy’s tail. Tomorrow it will be tangled again, but today it’s a silk flag in the wind, and she is prissy, knowing how beautiful she is (because I tell her constantly). She was a racehorse, but during the pandemic (or perhaps because her hooves don’t grow well) she was sold at auction with a future as dog food in Mexico if no one rescued her. She is such a baby, wanting constant petting and treats.
Janice is almost my age (i.e., an “elder”). We met this winter at a martial arts clinic (yes, really). She rode with her sensei (teacher) from Wyoming to Alabama! Fourteen hundred miles separate us, yet we chatted via email about tying up her gutter that fell in the Laramie wind to the porch with a bungee cord, and I told her about a piece of my day. The thread of a new friendship weaving across those miles lightened my heart.
Our old dog, Glenny, walked all the way to the barn with me today. Usually, he goes to the end of the yard and then abandons me, heading back to the house. This time I had to wait while he stopped often to read the “newspaper” of smells along the drive, a lesson in patience, but I was happy with his quiet company.
Colors in the water of Becky’s painting are giving me fits. Do I still like it? Yes . . . no. Frustrating. Trying to push through the fear of an ugly mess, giving the paper the paint and waiting to see what it does with it.
Took some mint to my sister (so grateful she lives nearby) and helped her move hosta plants she had grown for years to her new house and decide where to put them, as well as an ornate wrought iron gate she bought at a yard sale. (She is a yard-sale queen!) She helped me load two trellis plant stands (that she would have sold, but gave to me), into the truck. I put them in the back yard in front of the ugly metal poles of the clothesline. Any thoughts what I should grow on them? Clematis, maybe? Only partial sun back there.
More paint on the duck. Hoping Becky will like it. Hoping I will like it. Layers defining, softening, brightening. It will never look like the photo but that’s okay has long as it evokes the wonder of the light, the quiet dignity of the duck rippling through still water, but I don’t know if it’s working or not. Really struggling with making this right.
I was up at midnight the night before taking this to Becky because it was still not right, but in the end, I went to bed feeling it was good, or as good as I could do.
She cried when she saw it.
Her happiness made me very happy.
Writing this woke me to the small joys that happen every day. Looking for “accomplishments,” I miss their significant. What a gift life is.
*PS The audio book for House of Rose is under review by Audible.com and hopefully available very soon!
T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her. More at TKThorne.com
I enjoyed this so much. It felt like I was right there with you. I was admiring the tiny mazus blossoms in one of my tiny brick paths yesterday, too. 🙂
I love this post which points to the gifts of a long life: friendship, appreciation of flowers and animals, and the deep satisfaction that comes from simple pleasures. PS- I like the duck painting-the red draws me in.
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What a soothing, joyous column, T.K.! I will print this and enjoy the words, the photo, and your painting at those times I lose sight of what is always right before my eyes. Thank you.
I loved your post. Just sitting here at coast and noticing a few weeds that need plucking in my walkway, I can identify with the peace of the simple things. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our writing that we forget to go out and live. We need those breaks to recharge our lives. Have a wonderful May! Diane
Thanks, Diane! Hope your weather is perfect down there. Already getting hot here. Gonna have to get out early (ouch!) to do gardening!
Thank you Doug! Your comment gave me joy today! 🙂
Beth, thanks so much for your comments. Yes, it takes a long time to really get that and to understand that everything changes, so there is only this moment to be open to them.
Very cool! 🙂
Just returned from attending my 2-year delayed 50th college class reunion. Life is good. Perfect frame of mind to appreciate all of the nuances of T. K. Thorne’s wonderful expressions. Been a huge fan from the very beginning. Looking forward with great pleasure to continuing. Keep up the good work.
So happy, as always, to hear from you, Prince. I am grateful and humbled by your friendship and kind words. And I am your fan as well!
Your painting is even more beautiful in real life. It is paired with Dewey’s photo and will greet everybody who walks through the front door. Thank you, my friend, for your thought (and joy) that went into your art. Timeless! Your post does for me what writing it did for you: it “wakes me to the small joys that happen every day.”
Thank you, my friend. You are definitely one of those joys!
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