Monday, October 28, 2013

Frankie Goes to France

My grandson Frankie will be three years old next month and has recently returned from a trip to France.  I made him this book as a birthday gift with photos from the trip taken by his parents, on Shutterfly.  (I've been very pleased with their books, for the most part.)

To properly view this post, click on the first picture and then scroll through.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Just Writing," Thursday, October 24, 2013, 2:24 PM

Pier Park

            Thursday, October 24, 2013, 2:24 PM, "Just Writing"* Pier Park, puffy clouds on blue sky, fall colors, cold wind.  If I were writing a "piece," which would need to flow in some orderly fashion, I would describe the park, which is on a peninsula that juts out into Lake St. Clair, but if I were just writing, I would probably not describe the marina for new reader.  Because who is the new reader when I am "just writing?"  Mostly, if I am "just writing," I am writing for myself and I already know about Pier Park, having been here hundreds of times before.  I know about the tennis courts and the red wagons for carrying stuff out to the boats in their slips.
            But because it occurs to me that I might be posting this as "just writing," I think I need to explain in case anyone actually looks at what I have written.  But doesn't that defeat the point of "just writing?"
            Brian Powers kept me late.  Of course we started late, and I was so tired and a little depressed and didn’t really want to be there.  Some black guy in medical scrubs was in with BP taking my time and I was resentful and seriously considering leaving--I was composing a note to him in my head.  "Was here, but you were not." or something equally offensive.
            I resent being kept late because I have so many other things I need to attend to.
            I settle my hat more firmly on my head against the wind.  I'd be sad if it blew into the lake.  The roses and hydrangeas are still in flower, in spite of the cold.  A guy with white hair is walking on the path ahead of me.  The horizon is dark, the sky pale, the clouds receding into the distance growing smaller and smaller, a single sailboat perches on the horizon, the tress rustle in the wind, the leaves rattle across the ground.  The white-haired guy is walking faster than I am and the distance between us is lengthening.
            A grey-haired person walks toward me, hands in the pockets of a parka, looking down.  It takes me almost until she reaches me to determine it's a woman.  Her hair is pulled back and she could be a man from the front.  Her face is very wrinkly and she looks sad. 
            I jam the hat on tighter.  I pass a man fishing and two workers rolling hose.   One Echinacea not gone by.  All the others have been cut down by the workers and hauled off somewhere.
            I see a shining on the horizon where a spot of sun comes between the couds.  It's not shining here . . . and . . . now it is, but the wind is icy.
            ML is coming to dinner tonight.  (ML is Mary Louse, my mother-in-law, age 91.  I would not have to say that if I were just writing for myself, since I already know, so I must think I might be going to post this.)  I need to hurry home and clean up some.  Keith is making spaghetti for dinner.
            I pass another fisherman, this one with two poles.  Every time I come here this fall, like every fall at this time, there are fewer and fewer boats in the slips.  I turn around at the end of the pier, walk back the other way and notice that the same fisherman now has three poles set up and a fourth leaning on his cart. 
            I had terrible insomnia last night and was awake (and up out of bed) until after 3 AM.  BP suggests thyroid issues, lyme disease.  I'm very tried.
            They used to have big thick "nautical" ropes strong along the wharf here, but now they've replaced them with aluminum piping (fence, rails).  They've been working on it for a while and it now seems to be complete.  It feels safer (for someone like me who sometimes stumbles or staggers), but isn't as pretty.  Or, maybe it's pretty in a different way. 
            The guy with the white hair, who is all dressed in grey, just came up from behind and passed me.  He "lapped me,” in a way, but not really, because I walked to the end of the Pier and back and he did not, not now. 
            I went to the NaNoWriMo website for Detroit today and looked at the faces of the people running the site and they look like teenagers, or very young twenties.  I could be their grandmother.
            The color of the horizon has changed yet again.  It is now a translucent green, turquoise green.  The single sailboat is still out there.  Starting at Pier Park, I follow the land around to the south as it shrinks and shrinks and disappears, leaving nothing but open water.  It's a long span around to the north to land again in the distance.
            I have no particular desire to go out there.
            My desire to be in the woods may be, if BP is right, causing my terrible symptoms--that is, if I have Lyme disease.
            He thinks I might.
            I could have both thyroid issues and Lyme disease.
            It always amuses me when the boats start peeing.  (Bilge pumps.)
            The woman of indeterminate gender with the blue parka and grey hair walks toward me again.  She and the white-haired man with the grey clothes and I seem to be the only people walking here today.  We each apparently have planned different routes.  I am walking another pier and the water below the pier here is shallow and the bottom is sandy.  The waves make wave-shadows on the sand and the sun sparkles on the waves so that there is a multitude of overlapping patterns.  As I walk out the pier, the water gradually deepens, shifting the patterns.  Out at the end, there are weeds, a few here and there rising from the sand and undulating in the water. 
            I walk along the sandy shore of Lake St. Clair, studying the mountain range patterns created by the lapping waves.  Pockets of rotted seaweed under the sand collapse and I get my socks wet.  I am wearing sandals with socks.  Clean Darn Toughs.  No longer clean. 
            There is a pumpkin nearly buried in the sand at the edge of the water.  Cottonwood leaves floating and gathering at the edges.  Rain pocks in the sand.  No other human footprints, but goose tracks.
            There is an abandoned red plastic pail and a blue plastic shovel and large plotches of heron doo.  There are no children here today, the pool too is empty of people and the water, which is only about two feet deep, is turning green.  Small bird flutter through the weeds in the beach accretion on the other side of the fence.  The buoys are wound around carts and strung from the pool fence.  The lifeguard chair has been removed from the beach and a sign says, Warning.  I can't read the smaller words underneath.  Oh, now I can, "No lifeguard on duty, swimming in this area could be dangerous.  Another sign says "restrooms closed for the season."
            No kids are playing in the tot lot, either.  It's a little chilly, but I would have brought my kids here. 

  • *I originally saw this here:  In Blue Ink.  
  • You can participate here:  Just Write 107
  • Learn more about it here.  Details.
  • My previous post, which kind of reads like a story, I think, was something I wrote "Just Writing" as I walked.  (But I only included that one section here:  Tent camp.
This isn't a Tuesday and I don't know if I am writing from "the gut" or not.  I'm just writing.  Like I do almost every single day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Transforming Tent Village at Lake St. Clair

The Transforming Tent Village at Lake St. Clair  

            I’m out walking at St. Clair Lake Metro Park; it's a perfect day, weather-wise, warm without being hot, cool without being cold, breezy on the edge of windy, sunny and pretty, fall color.  Many turtles are out sunning themselves in the pond.  I attempted a picture with Elfie, my old Canon digital Elph camera, but it was pretty much a waste of time.  The zoom on it is useless, but it’s the only camera I have with me.
            Because of the wind, there are kites flying.  I see six of them at the boat launching site, the big semi-circular ones that look sort of like parachutes.
            I am walking the boardwalk.  Keith apparently doesn't like it.  I imagine this because several times, I asked him to choose which way to walk and he always chose the other way, into the woods, so, since he’s not with me (I miss him!), I chose to come this way today, for a change.  I don't find the marsh boring.  It's lovely in a zen-like way, with patches of subtle color and vegetation changes and I am glad to be here, taking my time to enjoy it.  I do love the woods, also.
            I am up at the boat launch area.  It is very windy out here; the wind is much stronger than in the woods.  The kite flyers have set up tent-like, lean-to-like colorful cloth shelters that are rippling in the wind with flapping and snapping sounds.  I wonder if there is a competition going on.   The kite-fliers are also flying flags.

          Those things I thought were shelters are NOT!  They are kites, laid on the semi-circular curved base.  Someone just came and picked one up and it trying to get it airborne.  The wind, while strong, is gusty and unpredictable.

            The man is wearing a uniform, which makes me wonder again if it is a competition.
            I turned away for a minute, and when I looked back, the shelter cum kite is airborne.  It's red, blue and white with letters, an L and an F.
            Some of the kites are bigger and some smaller.  Some wider and some narrower.  OH!
            OH! Now I see that the uniforms are wetsuits and the men are windsurfing.  They are out on the water blowing away in the wind.  How will they get back?
            They are going straight out into the lake, away from shore.  OH!  Now they are coming back.  Somehow, they are able to go both out and back.

            My guy, LF, is wading out, along with another guy, blue dude.  LF’s kite crashes in the water.  He gets it up again.  Meanwhile, another guy, red dude, surfs right up to where I am standing, clunks down, rotates and surfs extremely rapidly away again.  LF is still trying to get onto his board.
            I take some pictures with Elfie, wishing I had a better camera with me . . . I had no idea I would be here when I left home.  LF and blue dude are still struggling to get up while others race back and forth.  I can't believe how fast they go.
            It seems odd now that I thought the kites were an “Arab” tent village when I first saw them.  More men--and women are picking up the “tents,” which transform into kites, and heading for the water.  I watch a while, then give up waiting for LF to become waterborne.  I'm heading on and finishing my walk.  I'm really glad I came, though.  We've seen those same kites before and even photographed them behind the trees, but I had no idea people were surfing with them.
            When I get home, I look it up.  It’s called kitesurfing, and it looks very exciting and possibly dangerous. I guess because I don't watch TV, I'm not very well informed; if I did, I might have known about kitesurfing, though I do think I've seen pix of it before.  I just didn't make the connection with the big kites we’ve seen and with St. Clair Lake Metropark.

Saturday, October 19, 2013




He picked a table in the wrong room.  I’d driven my own car and looked for him first in the old rooms.  I loved the old rooms in Mother’s, the ones with the low lights, small cubbies and slanted floors.  He picked the bright new room, like a gymnasium or a school cafeteria.  It was a disappointment, but I’d survive it.

It was our second date.  We met at a bar a few nights before.  Each of us had come with someone else.  We left with each other.  He was a good kisser, and wanted more, but I made him wait.  “I don’t do that,” I explained, “on a first date.”

I studied him.  He was a little fleshy in the jowls.  Otherwise handsome, with bright blue eyes and shocks of blond hair.  He wore jeans, a cowboy shirt and cowboy boots.

He studied me.  I was a little overweight, but not bad.  Not then.  I was running, dieting, taking care of myself.  And I was tanned, not from salons or laying on the beach, but from a long hike through the mountains, solo.  I was proud of myself.  I felt strong and capable.

He looked at my feet.  I wore jeans and my battered hiking boots, a trophy from 125 miles in the Adirondack Wilderness.  “Next time, you’ll have to get rid of those boots,” he said, “and wear some nice pumps.”

I hadn’t finished eating; I’d barely gotten started.  I got up and walked out.  I had a pair of old pumps in my trunk for emergencies.  I hadn’t worn them in years.  I took them out and put them on the hood of his pick-up truck and drove away.

From a photo-prompt given in the Cowbirders' Poetry and Flash Fiction Group #7 (my second response to that prompt.) The photo, by my husband Keith, manipulated by me, was taken at the Heidelberg project in Detroit. I have lots of shoe pix also, but my computer isn't working well. While I labeled this as fiction, it is based on a true story. A guy I was out on a second date with at Mother's in Liverpool told me I had to wear pumps on our next date. I made absolutely certain there was no next date.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Only Shoes

Leopard-skin Shoes, by Diane Jardel
(A photo prompt
for the Cowbirder's Poetry and Flash fiction group #7)

Only Shoes

"You can't go up on stage and get your diploma wearing those shoes!" Harrie hissed. 

"But they're the only shoes I brought!" Jannah said.

“How could you not have brought something other than those beat-up, falling apart sneakers held  together with duct tape?  You weren’t planning on wearing those with a dress, were you?”

“I didn’t bring a dress.”

“You’re not wearing that threadbare flannel shirt!”

“I was going to.”

Harrie brought her royal blue Beetle around to Jannah’s dorm.  “Come on,” she insisted, pushing Jannah toward the door, “We’re getting you some duds.”

“I can’t afford them,” Jannah objected. “And graduation is in an hour.”

“It’ll be my graduation gift; and it will be fun.”

“Yeah, like pulling teeth!”

“Oh Jannah!” Harriet sighed.

 “If we have to go, let’s go to the Goodwill.”

Jannah picked out a jean skirt and loose blouse, but Harrie vetoed them.  “Too casual,” she said.  Instead, Harrie bought Jannah a classic shirtwaist dress in a leopard-skin pattern with matching shoes.  Jannah blanched when she saw them. 

Harrie did Jannah’s hair in a French twist and arranged the dress and shoes and produced a matching handbag that Jannah hadn’t seen her buy.

Jannah tottered up on stage, nearly twisting her ankle climbing the stairs in the unstable shoes. She clomped awkwardly over to accept the rolled parchment with its blue bow and shake the hands of all the dignitaries.

Then she fell down the stairs on the other side, landing in a heap at the bottom.  The pins came out of her hair and it cascaded around her face.

A young man in the PhD section rushed over and lifted Jannah from the floor.  Before he picked her up, she saw ratty sneakers and beat-up jeans under his gown.  Then she looked up at his face. He had a sweet shy smile and hair that curled over the top of his ears. 

As he carried her out the door, she said, “What about your diploma?”

“Those aren’t real,” he said, pointing at her now mashed tube of paper. “They mail the real ones to you.”

“What about your parents?”

“They couldn’t come.  Yours?”


As he strode down the sidewalk away from the gym, Jannah laid her head on his shoulder.  She wiggled her toes and the leopard-skin shoes fell to the ground. The young man took one look at them, leaned over, gave her a small kiss and kept walking, leaving the shoes where they fell.