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Love Flowers

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LOVE FLOWERS

Tomorrow when I walk into work, I will be greeted by the smell of roses and fresh greenery and the laid-back reggae beats of Bob Marley. I’ll spend the day reading encouraging, funny, sweet sentiments while chatting with friendly people.

I can’t believe somebody is paying me to do this.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a substitute teacher and a writer and a pastor. Also an office assistant for my housing cooperative. I also have ADD, which helps explain why I’m perfectly happy to be working at half a dozen different pursuits. This keeps my brain bathed in feel-good chemicals. To me, boredom is the ultimate terror.

But this job — this job.

When a friend of mine posted on Linked-In that her florist shop would need extra help during the Valentine’s Day rush, I messaged her right back. I have always thought that working in a flower shop would be the bee’s knees.

(I just had to know, and now you will, too: Turns out, “the bee’s knees” was part of a bizarre slang fashion in 1920s America which consisted of animal/attribute pairings, including elephant’s adenoids, cat’s meow, ant’s pants, tiger’s spots, bullfrog’s beard, and eel’s ankle. So there you have it.)

As I was saying, flowers. 

Being surrounded by flowers is just as wonderful as I’d imagined — it’s a big warehouse bursting with every kind of bloom you could name and a lot you couldn’t.

But even more wonderful are the loving messages that accompany each flower order. I get to print out each one and slip it into an envelope that will be received with love and gratitude. My day is infused with positive, caring sentiments. Congratulations, sympathy, encouragement, apology, new house, new job, new baby, new school, and of course declarations of love for Valentine’s Day.

I love reading people’s pet names for each other. (So far, “Poop” is my fave.) What makes it all even sweeter is the number of messages from husband to husband and wife to wife. Love is love.

I suppose part of what makes this job the eel’s ankle (I just wanted to use that one) is that it’s temporary. Knowing I’ll only be there for one week, albeit working ten to twelve-hour days, makes me appreciate it all the more.

I am grateful to the Higher Power that aligns my stars for me.

Happy Valentine’s week!

 

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Momentary Observations: Aftermath of a Death

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There are flowers. The ones Jamie sent me after I posted on Facebook that the rainy days were getting me down and I needed sunshine and flowers and maybe Swiss cheese. Isabel gave me a red cyclamen at dinner that night, too.

There’s a wooden bowl of rose petals I couldn’t bring myself to throw away, saved from the bouquet Ralph brought to the funeral — yellow, pink, white, and a pretty coral color.

Ralph's Roses

Ralph’s Roses

And dozens of cards atop the piano, mostly sympathy but a few of my “Congratulations, Graduate!” ones, too, so that I remember that life is not all death. The yin and yang of December, 2013.

All the Christmas paraphernalia I had out is still out, ready for wrapping and decorating that never happened because he died and life stopped for a time. Somebody needs to put that away.

There are books, many books. Novels and nonfiction, of  course, but also lots of grief books: my effort to understand, anticipate, and control. Always wanting to know: is this normal? Am I OK? It is, and I am.

Against the wall lean two picture boards from the funeral home, which have a lovely blue background strewn with delicate white clouds that I’m sure nobody noticed because the photos are taped too close together. I didn’t want to miss a single memory.

My brother as a little  boy: his cheeks as round and rosy as the half-eaten apple in his hand; his military salute as ill-fitting as his baggy soldier costume . . .

biff with apple

biff soldier salute

. . . his smile peeking out from under his too-large Davy Crockett coonskin hat. Older now, his hippie locks have been bleached by the Texas sun and he smiles awkwardly, gingerly holding our baby niece in his arms. Older still, he’s wearing dress clothes and a white silk tie, but squatting on the floor with our young nephew – they are deeply engaged in a struggle involving plastic cowboys, stallions, and stage coaches.

biff playing with Jeff

When the WordPress Gods offered a writing challenge for the week asking for brief, momentary observations at lunch time, it didn’t seem like much of a challenge.  Because life is still standing still for the most part, and these snapshots in time — momentary observations — seem to be all that registers.

So, there’s my living room at lunch time. Pretty much the way it’s been for a month.

Brittle Petals

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After the memorial service, I am sad.

I don’t want to be alone tonight, and I tell God so.

I am aimlessly rearranging things in a kitchen cabinet when I find the box — Guatemalan, I think.

Bright enamel covers it. Dust covers it, too.

I wipe it off, open it up.

At first I don’t remember. Then I do.

They used to be yellow; now they are brown.

They used to be soft; now they are brittle.

Brittle petals, memories of a friend who was there in a long-ago sadness.

Yellow roses from a Texan.

He never said they were from him. A friend said, “It was Bob.”

Today would be a good day for yellow roses, but brittle petals are a nice second.

Thanks, Bob. Thanks, God.

Brittle Petals in a Box

Brittle Petals in a Box

A Soul Being Filled

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Nine hours of interstate and my car sloshes into the two muddy ruts that pass for a driveway. I step out into the rain expecting the usual scent of pine, but am instead blessed by a breeze saturated with lilac and lily of the valley.

I am early this year — I’ve never seen the lilacs bloom; never seen the lily fronds petaled with fallen apple and quince blossoms.

Lilacs by the Coach House

Lilacs by the Coach House

It must have been raining for days. The bushes and trees hang heavily, and the ground is soggy beneath my bare feet as I traipse back and forth, back and forth through the wet grass, blue jeans rolled to my knees, carrying my cats, my books, my cooler, my clothes.

Unpacked, I return to the car and head to the spring in the glistening dusk. I drive slowly, windows open, and breathe.

And breathe.

Every small hollow is full of water and bursting with song. I’ve never heard the spring peepers here, either, and I swerve drunkenly to miss the scores of sex-crazed frogs leaping wildly across the road.

Across from the spring, bits of mist drift down the dark mountain and promise a heavy morning fog. Below, the Ashuelot River dances giddily along its banks dressed in decorative white foam, as if rushing to a rendezvous downstream.

I fill my bottles with fresh water and nature fills my soul with springtime scents and songs.

I am here.

Apple Blossom Art

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Apple Blossom Art

Apple Blossom Art

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