Author’s note, added Oct. 2, 2020: This entry was posted before the Covid-19 disclosure, and it refers only to the likely result of the election… I would never wish the virus on anyone.

The setting winter sun shone weakly over Washington D.C. on this blustery day in late January. He stormed through the halls of power, angry as always, raging at all the new faces. None of them belonged here. Where were his obedient minions? These people weren’t paying any attention to him at all.

A young woman with clacking heels and a bulging briefcase approached the corridor junction where he stood. She was so intent on getting to wherever she was going, she walked into him—and straight through him. Just as if he had been a…

But no, that was ridiculous. He must have imagined it. He couldn’t possibly be a ghost. Only the insignificant little people caught the virus and died—like the ones who came to his rallies. Anyway, he didn’t remember dying, and there was nothing wrong with his memory. Hadn’t he passed the dementia screening with flying colors? His belfry had no bats in it.

Photo of bats flying at dusk.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Around another turn, down the next corridor, he saw some familiar faces. But they didn’t even glance in his direction when he spoke; and they looked suspiciously happy, instead of scurrying nervously to do his bidding as usual. Traitors! He would soon bring them to heel with a few well-aimed tweets. Nobody could make him give up power because of a rigged election and fake news.

The solid weight of the phone in his pocket, sliding comfortably into his hand, reassured him. Quickly he logged into his Twitter account. Almost at once, he realized something was very wrong. Where were his millions of devoted followers? That low number had to be an error. He refreshed the page while scheming about how he would punish Twitter’s management for their woeful incompetence. When the page came back up, though, the number had dropped even lower.

Losing his temper entirely, he threw the phone at the nearest wall. It smashed into several pieces, which fell to the floor and melted into tiny puddles before disappearing. Wait, that wasn’t right—a phone couldn’t do that! His hands were shaking now. When he looked down at them, he saw that they were disappearing too, becoming less solid with every breath he took.

“Nooooo!”

He woke in a cold sweat, his heart hammering. Just a dream, he told himself—nothing but a bad dream. He hadn’t been able to rid himself of it, though. This was the fourth time in a week.

With everything that we have had to contend with this year, sometimes it’s hard to see how the world is making any progress at all. Staying focused on a better future is a challenge when even the smallest step forward seems to be against the wind.

We’ll look around one of these days, though, and find that all of today’s worries are behind us. When that happens, I expect we’ll be able to see a lot farther.

Word-art that says "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." - Henry Ford

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

To read Part 9, click here. All parts of this story are consolidated on one page here.

The sliding glass door closed smoothly behind her. Steam rose from the coffee mug on this pleasantly cool morning. A forgotten corner of the back garden beckoned. She had been meaning to get it cleaned up for ages, but she never had gotten around to it. The bench still needed a fresh coat of paint and was overgrown with so many roses that sitting down wasn’t much of an option. Even so, looking at its riotous, unkempt beauty on this lovely morning, she couldn’t help but to smile. All was right with the world.

Garden bench with roses and other flowers.

The tranquil birdsong was interrupted, a moment later, by the sound of someone crying. The terrified sobs sounded like a frightened child. She took a step back from the roses, and the garden abruptly faded to blackness around her.

Ina sat up in her bed in the dormitory; another dream, gone. Something about roses—there were always roses in her dreams, and a quiet, peaceful house. Lighting the candle on her nightstand with a casual flicker of thought, she turned toward the shuddering girl in the next bed.

“Wake up, Phoenix. You’re having a nightmare again.”

Big dark eyes blinked, reflecting the candlelight.

“It was the same place.” Hands trembling, Phoenix tugged ineffectually at the heap of covers that had gotten tangled around her. “Some ugly, grimy building like a dungeon, and they were whipping me again. Maybe I was a slave or a prisoner before I came here. I can’t remember any of it clearly, and I don’t want to know. When Mother Ocean took away my memories, she did me a kindness.”

Farther down the row of beds, another pair of eyes gleamed in the flickering light. Firefly sat up, leaning against the headboard as she twisted back an unruly lock of hair that had escaped from her nighttime braid.

“I dreamed about a goat doing handstands in a field of daisies,” Firefly said, in what sounded like a valiant effort to shift the conversation to a more cheerful topic. “Or maybe that would be front hoof stands, don’t you think? Because goats don’t have hands, of course.”

“Yes, hoof stands, I suppose so,” Ina said absently, still trying to recall at least a few details of the roses in her disappearing garden. Large blooms, an old bench—of that she was fairly sure. And somewhere nearby, a low wall—had it been brick or stone? And was ivy growing on it? Tendrils of ivy danced in her thoughts, mocking her inability to put together a clear image.

After a minute or so, Ina gave up, committing those meager scraps of information to the imaginary shelf in her mental library that held the fragments of a now distant life. She held onto a small, half-formed hope that if she gathered enough of them, one day they might come together into a pattern that made sense. Her lessons had been like that sometimes, made up of little snippets that eventually grew into a coherent whole.

Firefly was still chattering about goats, or something else just as unimportant. Ina hadn’t paid enough attention to give any meaningful response to it.

“Do you ever remember, Firefly? Anything?” Without knowing what had come over her, Ina suddenly found herself asking the one question that the girls never discussed.

“Remember, you mean—before?” Firefly’s usual cheerful expression turned into a ferocious scowl. “No, and I don’t see any reason why I should want to, either. We have a very good life here. It’s fascinating to learn about the creatures of the forest, river, and prairie. Being a peasant girl in some filthy little village would be awful—working in the fields all day, having to marry some nasty man just because he paid the bride price, and then being pregnant all the time. Ugh!”

Her words were spoken with such unexpected vehemence that Ina suspected there might be some memories lurking behind them, despite the denial. Whether or not that was so, it was plain that this conversation was over—even before Firefly turned her back to Ina and pulled the covers up over her head. Phoenix had closed her eyes, probably not asleep, but doing a creditable imitation of it.

Now it is time to rest, Ina communicated to the candle’s small flame, which obediently quenched itself. Staring into the darkness, she found herself quite unable to take her own advice. Her mind was anything but restful as an endless parade of questions stormed through it. Who had lived in the house with the roses and the old bench? Did she have a family waiting for her to come back? Were they grieving her loss? Would she ever find her way home to them again?

Click here to continue to Part 11.

As summer’s long, bright days reach their end and autumn’s cool winds take their place, we may want to spend time indoors with a book, or perhaps a journal, and a cup of hot tea or coffee. Or we may feel more inclined to take long, solitary walks through fallen leaves in misty woods. Autumn is about change, about letting go; but it is also about finding, in that it gives us a nudge to become better acquainted with ourselves.

Like the earth, settling in for months of quiet slumber while life goes on under the surface, we’re making ready for new growth.

Word-art that says "Find your soul."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

September 17, 2020 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

For the past few weeks I’ve been saying an “infinite possibilities” mantra while working out on my rowing machine with video of a river or lake quietly going by. Also, I usually display peaceful landscapes on the digital art display in my dining room, like this image from Hausjärvi, Finland.

Lake in Finland

(Photo credit: Tero Laakso)

But I might have overdone it, just a bit, with all those possibilities. I dreamed that I had three boyfriends, all at the same time! Because this was a dream, they all knew about each other, had no problem with it, and treated me wonderfully.

In real life, figuring out how to deal with one husband always has been quite sufficient. I can say with assurance that I definitely have no secret longing for extra guys! So I’m interpreting the dream as a creative exercise by my subconscious in pushing the boundaries of possibility. The message (to the extent there is one) probably has to do with the world being full of abundance.

I’m writing this post while on my midday break, after a conversation with my manager about career development. The company started using the Workday human resources system last year; it has a structured development process in which employees assess their skills and goals, then meet with their manager periodically to discuss them.

She mentioned that although these conversations take up a lot of time, she doesn’t mind because they are more fun than some other tasks. I said it’s good that people are feeling less unsettled than they were earlier this year, which got us talking about how everyone still wishes they could just hibernate until 2020 is over. Even so, I would say we’re slowly learning how to find peace.

Word-art that says "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

September 9, 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the long weekend, my husband and I got out rowing every day. The weather was nice and sunny, though definitely on the windy side. We rowed a double on Saturday and Monday, which doesn’t get blown around as much as a single because it is larger and more stable. On Sunday it seemed mostly calm in the early afternoon, and we went out in singles, but the wind started picking up toward the end of our row.

I got an email at work last week asking for photos of Labor Day activities to share with the group, so I asked my husband to take a photo of me rowing the single. He brought his phone in a waterproof bag, and although the sun made it hard to see, he managed to get a pretty good landscape view.


On Monday we went out early too, which turned out to be a good thing because some ferocious thunderstorms developed later in the day. Now the river is full of debris and too high to row. Of course, we’re back to work anyway, so I am not complaining. The rain was for the best, as it has been so dry around here.

My online rowing session this afternoon came from a new destination—the instructor was on a river in Burlington, Vermont. The surrounding landscape was a beautiful emerald green. The video occasionally switched to a drone view during the workout and showed the river from above, in addition to the usual cameras on the instructor’s boat and on the safety launch following it. I particularly enjoyed that view after the dry, hot summer here in Ohio, which left the trees and lawns in my neighborhood looking parched.

Afterward, my husband mentioned that someone on Facebook had complained that the drone view was a distraction from the workout. I said that I didn’t look at it that way. It was good to have something different for a change. Besides, it was just for fun, and it made the workout feel more playful—like the dolphins that sometimes leap out of the water during the winter rowing sessions in Miami Beach. Life wouldn’t have much zest without curiosity and appreciation for new views.

Word-art with a dolphin and words like "Playful" and "Curious."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

To read Part 8, click here. All parts of this story are consolidated on one page here.

Dry leaves on the forest floor, dappled in late-afternoon sunlight, crackled underfoot on the dusty path. Ina barely noticed them because the crickets trilled so loudly, announcing the change of seasons. Sunlight glinted, also, from the silver clasp that Luz always wore in her glossy dark hair.

Soon the path took a right turn beside the river, winding ever upward. Water tumbled over moss-bright rocks in the shade of a narrow ravine. Thick ferns jutted out of the banks, with trees clinging to the slopes above.

Photo of a river tumbling over dark, mossy rocks.

They had passed Daphne some time ago, standing as still on the riverbank as if she had been a tree herself. Her eyes were closed and her face blissfully serene.

“She is becoming one with the moss as it grows,” Luz had murmured, in a voice so quiet that it almost could not be heard over the constant background sounds of the crickets and rushing water.

Climbing higher, they had passed Phoenix as well, gazing out from a ridge toward the half-moon on the horizon. Luz had given a brief explanation for that, as well. “She is listening to the moon’s song.”

The path narrowed, taking another turn through a dense stand of laurels before coming out on a stony rise. Only one tree grew here, a majestic oak with a wide-spreading crown that overshadowed the low bushes and grass around it.

“Five hundred years old, at least,” Luz said, following Ina’s gaze toward the tree. “We’ve come far enough; now you must begin your task, which is to feel the storm in the air.”

The sky ahead was clear to the horizon. The cool, crisp air held no hint of rain, and Ina felt only the lightest breeze at her back. She turned her head to glance from one side to the other, perplexed.

“But there isn’t a storm.”

Luz only smiled.

Turning all the way around to look back down the hill they had just climbed, Ina saw a distant line of pale gray clouds. That didn’t look much like a storm to her, but it seemed to be the closest thing she was going to find. The breeze coming from that direction grew stronger as Ina focused her attention on it. Her long sleeves flapped in a sudden gust. Yes, now that was starting to feel more like a storm. The clouds were darker than they had been a minute ago, and definitely closer. The air had gotten thicker and heavier. It was unsettled and full of potential…

Ina felt the lightning strike an instant before she saw it. Although the sky overhead still looked perfectly clear, a huge bolt crackled through the air, striking the old oak tree and splitting it down the middle. The halves, both burning, fell into the dry underbrush. Flames leapt hungrily into the grass and shrubs nearby.

“Oh! I didn’t mean to do that—oh, the forest will burn, everything is so dry.” Ina stood helplessly wringing her hands in dismay as the fire went on spreading, driven by gusty winds that continued to grow stronger.

“You must put out the fire, Ina, now.” Luz cut through her confusion and fear with a brisk command. “Remember all the days you practiced in the library this summer, putting out candles with only your thoughts. Bringing a forest fire under control is within your power, also.”

The roaring flames swept farther into the dry forest, not in the least resembling the tame little candles on the desks in the library. Ina tentatively reached her awareness toward it, feeling its greedy delight as it consumed brush and trees, casting sparks high into the air. The fire felt her presence, resented her interference; it wanted her gone. It snarled in her thoughts, angry as a bear interrupted while gnawing on a fresh kill—and it turned to attack her.

Sensing the change in the storm before it happened, Ina already had leaped backward by pure reflex before a powerful gust lifted a blazing branch from the ground and flung it viciously in her direction. She shrieked, unable to help herself, overcome by terror; but Luz, who looked as calm as ever, made a small hand gesture that sent the branch falling harmlessly into the charred grass.

Ina took a breath of the smoky air and tried to compose herself. The air still felt thick and heavy, and the sky overhead was getting darker—not just with smoke, most of which was still blowing in the other direction. Was it night already? But no, those were thunderclouds above her; she had felt them earlier, just as Luz had instructed, and she had brought them here.

The clouds were so high above the ground that the fire’s intense heat could not reach them. Instead, the swirling wind carried with it the heaviness of the clouds cooling as nightfall approached. Ina searched her thoughts for the word that described this process: condensation. Small droplets coming together, growing larger and heavier until the clouds could no longer bear their weight.

She felt a raindrop on her face, and then another. All at once it was pouring, the rain coming down so heavily that Ina wouldn’t have been able to see Luz, only a few paces away, if the woman’s faint silhouette hadn’t been backlit by the orange glow of the flames. But that glow soon faded; and the rain stopped, just as abruptly as it had begun, leaving a gorgeous orange sunset and a forest that was mostly intact but for a small, soggy blackened area.

“I’m s-sorry,” Ina said through chattering teeth, folding her wet arms across her soaked clothes. She felt that whatever she might say was nowhere near adequate. “I didn’t want to kill that beautiful old tree.”

“It is nature’s way. Everything that lives must die.” Luz turned away from the tree’s charred remains, taking a step toward the path that led back down the hill. “We care for the forest and the world as best we can, but nothing endures forever.”

Click here to continue to Part 10.