A place in the woods

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cabin

There is a place in the woods where my heart is free,

and my mind has been known to roam.

There are four walls and a roof that wait for me,

and long for me to call it my home.

The mass of buildings and lanes of traffic

are replaced with hills and trees.

The soothing sounds of Mother Nature’s lullaby

truly put my mind at ease.

I am homesick for a place I’ve never seen,

a place where my heart is replete,

a home where my soul is understood

 and a home where I feel genuinely complete.

The barren land beckons, the rolling earth lures,

I hear it calling my name.

I know when I finally find this haven

my life will never be the same.

I will shed the layers of the pretense I’ve lived

and genuinely feel at peace.

I will feel naked among the rocks and the trees,

and my life will have found a new lease.

There is a place in the woods where my heart is free,

and my mind has been known to roam.

I hope to one day discover this place,

and forever call it my home.

 (image credit)

There has to be some fun in rejection

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Although my quest continues to find a literary agent for my first novel, rejections can be extremely disheartening. I am not giving up, by any means, but merely trying to maintain a sense of humor through a very lengthy process.  Please feel free to read the post below to the tune of The Sounds of Silence.

~~

The Sound of Querying

Hello rejection, my old friend

I’ve come to tolerate you again

Because revisions softly creeping

Left their seeds while I was sleeping

And the edit that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the bounds of rewrites

~

In restless dreams my plot was formed

All my characters were transformed

Into people I would love to know

Except the serial killer, he can go

The words came  to me in the wee hours of the night

I couldn’t write

I hoped my phone was recording

~

And in the morning light I heard

Two or three hundred added words

Words I don’t remember speaking at all

I’m glad my smart phone has voice recall

I was recording things while I was practically asleep

My thoughts were deep

I knew I had to query

~

Fool, said I, you do not know,

Agents like the answer NO

Without reading your full manuscript

The whole story, they completely skipped

And my words, were never fully read, but instead

They landed on the bottom of the slush pile

~

Beta readers said it’s great

Into a movie it should be made

But you’re not allowed to tell agents that

You can only hope they want to chat

And the sad thing, although I was told my writing was outstanding

It still means nothing

It just echoes in the sounds of querying

Will the real magician please stand up?

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There is something about magic that forever binds us to our childhood. We recall birthday parties with the guy who retrieved the quarter from our ear, had a continuous cloth of many colors that he miraculously pulled out of his mouth and live animals he made disappear and reappear. These are the tricks we talked about incessantly when we were young and kids today are still engaged by those people who have the gift of magic and who can keep the illusions alive.

Every Thursday, we have a magician come to the lodge to entertain our guests. He has been a staple at the lodge for many years and the kids are always wowed by his pre-show antics during dinner. He hooks them with his sleight of hand, rewards them with a token of his wizardry and has them lining up to see his full performance when dinner has ended.

One particular night a few weeks ago, I received a text message from a co-worker. It was a message I never thought I would read and it simply said, “Frank forgot his rabbit”. The finale of his performance, the only live part of his show, was in a travel carrier and left at the lodge with nowhere to spend the night. I asked my co-worker to drop the bunny off at the staff house and we would deal with him in the morning.

The next morning came and the only place safe enough for the bunny to be harbored, until Frank could return, was my office. As cute as the bunny was, I was quickly pulled back to my childhood when I learned I was allergic to rabbits and the rest of my day was not so magical. Frank could not pick up the bunny until after his shows had ended and the bunny and I spent the day acclimating while he adjusted to being stuck in his travel cage and I adjusted to itchy, swelling eyes and sneezing.

Regardless of my allergic reaction and my utter disdain for the smell of his travel cage, that bunny became my hero. The more time he and I spent together, the more I laughed, because the more I laughed, the more I realized he held powers far beyond the cuteness of his twitching nose and his soft fur. That bunny, after years of being the victim of a disappearing act, had finally fulfilled his lifelong wish and made himself the star of the show by making the magician disappear!

Coming back to myself

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I have not been myself lately, Aside from still battling the lingering effects of the cold I have had for the last nine days, my energy has felt foreign to me. I am usually a very cheerful person but I have not had that effervescent feeling for a while and I don’t know why.

Sure, we are seven weeks through the nine crazy weeks of summer at the lodge and those weeks lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, but this is different. This feels like something has shifted and I can’t quite explain it to myself, let alone describe it to you. Whatever this funk is, it has even caused me to shy away from writing and that is not normal.

Thankfully, today is my day off. When I feel out of sorts, the first thing on my list of things to do is organize my house. I purged my closet of the clothing I have not worn in the last six months and that helped me feel like I had gained some control of the chaos in my mind. As much as that helped to start the process, the best place I can go to feel grounded and to get some of myself back is my kitchen. I reorganized my fridge, made my salads in a jar for lunches this week and I have ribs cooking slowly in my crockpot for dinner. Just the familiar smell of those ribs is bringing me back to a feeling of contentment. My disconnection is slowly being reconnected the more I focus on the things that are important to me and forget the stress that lingers outside of my four walls. I would be doing myself a disservice if I continued to wallow in whatever this low tide is that has been trying to drag me down.

These words may not be the exact phrases I would normally choose, but I’m writing and that is the last piece of the puzzle to get me out of this feeling of despondency and bring me back to myself, one word at a time.

The woes of a summer cold

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I am usually a happy person. I can find the positive in most situations but when I get sick in the summer, all bets are off. I can tolerate heat but humidity is my sworn enemy and the combination of humidity and sickness for me is too much to bear.

It hit me in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Being a person who is hot all the time, waking up at 3:00 am feeling extremely chilled is never a good way to start the day. I had a fever of 101 but I thought I should go to work anyway. I lasted an hour. I came home, spent the day on the couch and was grateful that Monday was my day off so I could battle this bug properly by getting some much-needed rest.

I slept like an Olympic sleeper on Sunday night and woke up Monday feeling like I had won the battle. I was wrong. By Tuesday morning, the fever had gone but the bug had relocated itself in my throat and my chest. Once again, I thought I should go to work anyway. I lasted four hours. By the time I came home, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades, the fever had come back and I sounded like a man.

I don’t get sick very often but when I get sick, I get sick. It is now Thursday evening and, as I write this post, the sore throat is almost gone but the cough is not. The germs that are still residing in my body have decided to move from my chest to my head and they have plugged both of my ears so I feel like I am living in a fishbowl. I have moved on from the age-old “feed a cold, starve a fever” to the “drink some wine and take some Alleve”. Hopefully tomorrow morning is the day I wake up and find out this bug has left the building!

 

Not-so-dry cleaning

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Working in the hospitality business goes hand-in-hand with working long hours.  I can adapt to the hours but my dog is the one who takes the brunt of my lifestyle in the summer months.  I will never leave her outside on a chain to battle the elements. She is firmly ensconced in our home, lazily spending her hours watching the wildlife from the comfort of my bed while the air conditioner keeps her cool.  I have several people who are more than willing to come over and let her out during the day because she is such a happy dog but having her be the excuse for me to leave work for thirty minutes is wonderful.

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(a much younger Callaway)

During these long days, I often wonder how she invests her time.  Is she reorganizing my kitchen cabinets?  Has she mastered the satellite remote?  Does she inventory my refrigerator?  But each day when I get home from my struggle to survive my sometimes 10-12 hour days, she is there to greet me and nothing in the house seems out-of-place.  Until recently…..

I returned home from my usual work day and I was greeted by the reassuring excitability that I have come to expect.  The house, as usual, was completely intact.  The garbage was untouched and the serene ambiance wrapped its arm around my shoulder and pulled me into its embrace to welcome me home.

My attention was immediately diverted to the duvet cover on my bed and what seemed to be a single article of clothing bunched up in the middle of the bed.  It wasn’t shredded, however the entire shirt was extremely damp.  She had been licking my shirt and focusing her attention on the armpits of the shirt.

Now, you have to understand that my closet is hidden by a decorative cloth shower curtain that poses as a makeshift door.  Somehow, she was able to get behind the shroud of the curtain, move the articles of clothing she had no interest in and gingerly lift that particular shirt from the middle of the pile of laundry in the basket.  She also strategically replaced the curtain so nobody could catch on to her devious plot.

As much as I miss her during my day, it broke my heart to realize how much she truly misses me during her day.  The writing was on the wall, or in this case on the bed.  My scent comforted her during her lonely day while she waited for me to return home.

We are more than halfway through our busy season and soon my work days will become shorter and more structured.  My time with her will increase and perhaps her need to be close to my deodorant-saturated shirts will abate somewhat because I will be here with her and not spending long days at work. I am grateful every day for her patience and her love and look forward to the moments we can spend together in the fall.

The things I should remember

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I have been thinking about my parents a lot lately.  For a person my age, it is sad I have to talk about how they used to be because they were taken far too early, both victims of the serial killer known as alcoholism.  I have written many heartfelt posts telling the tale of what my perspective was like growing up as a child of alcoholic parents.  But the more I read those posts again, and cried again, I realized I had been doing them a grave injustice.

So, I went back to the beginning – back to the days before that serial killer lurked in the shadows of my house, back to the days when life was great and back to the days when no elephant existed in any room in our home.

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My mom and dad were a lot of fun. My brother and I had many parties at our family home and my parents would remain in their bedroom allowing us full access to the house to host our friends.  But at the end of the night, the number of our friends watching TV with my parents in their room far outweighed the number of our friends in our living room.  Those were my parents.

They played strip ping-pong with the neighbors.  They ran naked from the neighbors’ sauna to roll in the snow and then back to the sauna.  They enjoyed life, they made the most of the good times and they truly loved each other. My mother summed it up completely in the caption of this photo of the four of us, “Happiness is Port Carling”.

When I began to think of what they were like as a couple, I couldn’t help but smile remembering how my dad used to look at my mom.  If my mom was within arm’s length, his hands would make contact with whatever part of her he could reach.  He would pat her bum as she walked by him.  He would kiss her every chance he got.  And when he grabbed her hand, I could see his hand physically squeezing hers several times in a sworn gesture of being smitten by her.  It was all about being able to touch each other, just to remind each other that they were there for the right reasons.

I had long forgotten those moments.  I was so marred by the effects alcohol had on their relationship I failed to remember the beautiful connection they had with each other.

And now that I have blinded myself to the painful memories, I will embrace the images of their fingers intertwined without realizing they were holding hands.  I will cling to the thought of how my dad just wanted to be close to her.  And I will forever hold close the knowledge that a simple touch from someone who means so much can change everything about your day.

After so many daily thoughts about so many things that don’t matter, I finally realized…..these are the things I should remember.