Autumn’s Light


It’s late September – I’ve just noticed the calendar – I mean really looked at it in a way that says the year is almost gone. The crepe myrtle outside my office window are still confused and blooming when late July and all of August is their time for glory. The Chinese tallow trees are still green, but here and there some of their leaves are dipped in crimson contrast. There’s a bit of a subtle golden sheen to the grasses, and every now and then a chilly wind comes from nowhere. Just a few inches off the soil, this cold shallow breath of winter nags at me.

I am beginning to understand why they call this the “autumn” of Life; after the children are grown and gone, but all the noise and effects of their presence lie in shards of silence everywhere you look. Like unraked leaves soon to be shed by seasonally confused trees, it’s a time to pause. I’ve never cared for a “Hold” button, but now I’m beginning to see why they are so integral to a marriage, a career and a lifetime. We all need time to see in depth what really was, beyond all the pretense of being family, beyond the hurry of other people’s schedules, beyond our own insane expectations.

Time to “clear the closets” in all manner of speaking. I’ve also realized in many ways that I’m taking an inventory of my own personal feelings within human relationships as I prepare to make other changes in our later years. Words, phrases, the little things that we do for one another take on a deeper, richer meaning. He’s always been more than “husband” – he is my lifemate, he is my beloved, he is my companion through the roughest storms any couple can handle and still stay together. Promises that we made to one another on a foggy April morning almost a quarter century ago have become more, as have we. I realize that I am more than “wife” to him, and have been for a very long time. We had learned to complete one another’s sentences, I can buy him graphic t-shirts that he adores because I know and adore all his quirks. He reads what I write, often before I’ve completed the creation.

In all of this he holds me. He gathers me up into the shelter of his taller, wider self to remind me, “You know I love you, never forget this. You are not alone.” When I despair of the words that I need to complete the landscape of intent, he quiets my sobs by saying, “You are my beloved. What you need is right there, and right here, too. Go and do this. You know you can.”

Sometimes I think that we do ourselves a huge disservice by painting romance as all hearts and flowers and long contented sighs. It is so much more than the deep kisses and gentle caress of one lover’s hand on the other’s skin. We need to remind ourselves that there are shared spirits and emotions; that somewhere in the building of a relationship there is a compromise that occurs. We need to be reminded that even the best of us can go from asset to asshat in 2.3 seconds given the right coercion.

I miss the long friendships that I had with other women. Thanks to the economic upheaval of 2008, my last ‘bestie’ lost her home, her business and nearly her mind. This was the sort of relationship that women need – someone who knows where ‘all the bodies are buried’ because she helped you dig the hole. You know each other’s tastes, you have a history together, and when the worst comes you allow each other the grace, place and space to grieve. When the best comes around, you protect her back in case some jealous ass wants to steal her time in the spotlight.

Finally, the children begin to have lives and histories all their own that they weave in incredible color and texture and joy right in front of you. You see where they are going to make a colossal, intractable knot and despite warnings and the itch to take the threads from their hands, you let them. You also observe as they take threads and influences from their beloveds and friends and incorporate this into their lives as well. What was just a tapestry becomes a work of art all on its own with an inner light and a symphonic soundtrack that dances in the eyes of all around.

My inner landscape is beginning to echo the outer one now, standing on the verge of a seasonal change. The first storms that herald the turning of the Great Wheel have passed, and as I take the mental broom to the sidewalks and patios of my inner house, the outer home settles into Autumn’s Light. Let there be joy in the contentment of finding a place in lengthening shadows and deepening twilight.

So be it.

Excerpt from WIP – “Of Snips & Snails”

As promised, the YA story is coming right along, and as what always happens, the cast of character sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night demanding that I get their yarn woven into the current tapestry of tale….

Enjoy! (As always, feedback is deeply appreciated!)


Odie & Anya

The school year progressed and Odie, under Dr. Belling’s tutelage, had become a much better student through the hours of time spent around his mentor and friend. Honors Chemistry was a course that strained the gray matter of all its’ attendees, but Odie it appeared, had a natural gift for working the most difficult of problems.  Excelling at schoolwork is not exactly part of the formulary for dealing with bullies, however. Especially if your bullies are on the football team and grades below a C got you benched for a game, or until you brought your average up. While he’d managed to escape the usual crush tactics at his locker, and the expected trip in the school cafeteria, Odie had his own set of tormentors who delighted in tagging him with the name “Slug-Boy.” This year, they were not above including his friend Anya in the abuse; pulling her hair, grabbing at her breasts, slapping her on the seat of her jeans, teasing her in derogatory innuendo and making racist remarks about her half-breed status by yelling out “Hey, Tomahonky! Slug-Boy treating you right?” She’d not revealed the depth of the bullying to Odie; he was working so hard on his own scholarship that she wasn’t going to let his defense of her honor get in the way of college opportunities for the both of them. But reporting the bullies wasn’t going to stop them if she went to the trouble. Anya was a “half-breed rez kid”, and anyone that cared for her welfare was a rarity.

Odie was weaving his way through the maelstrom of students leaving class just before the Christmas holidays when he saw Anya hiding her face in her coat. From her defeated posture and the shaking of her shoulders, he could tell she was sobbing. He reached out to gather her close to him, “Anya! What happened?”

When she turned to face him, it was apparent what the problem was as a large swath of her hair was chopped off in front to make ragged bangs.  A volcanic rage roiled up in his demand through a gravelly harsh voice, “Who did this to you?” His anger was just below the surface but rolling through his body. Anya was stunned almost out of her tears; she’d never seen him so enraged. Haltingly, through the tears she explained, “Those jocks, the ones that are always teasing you were mouthing off, and I told them to shut up. Billy pulled a knife, while the rest of them held my arms and…OH, Odie, my hair!!” She dissolved into tears again, and Odie gingerly pulled her into a gentle, if awkward, embrace, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.

A sudden, complete understanding flooding him; if the thugs couldn’t stop him one way, they’d use their tactics on whomever he cared for as an additional tool.  In their obscene need to dominate through testosterone and fear, they’d either forgotten or failed to care that there are consequences for outright assault on another student if you left enough evidence. With a firm voice Odie wrapped his right arm around his girlfriend, “Come with me, Anya.” As if he was a force of nature, Odie separated the traffic flow of students and pulled her along back into the Chemistry lab. He wasn’t going to stop, he wasn’t going to allow anyone to stop them either. With a hard edged voice he announced into the nearly vacant classroom as they entered, “Mrs. Turner? I need, um, we need some help, please.”

Amanda Turner was hard pressed every year to explain why she returned to teach High School Chemistry, however every year there was some student that showed some sort of promise that confirmed her commitment to teaching one more year. Odie Fentner was her reason for this year and possibly next year unless he tested out; he had a natural gift for understanding the most difficult of problems, and she was looking forward to writing his recommendations for college. With possible cut backs in budget and layoffs, retirement was looking like a better option; besides, the local school board had always been slightly hostile to math and science teachers.

But there was another consideration when Amanda Turner began seriously considering drafting her resignation letter.  Students were always getting themselves into situations that would have been better handled with a good sex education class or sometimes a lawyer, but it appeared that Fate would hand her those challenges to handle with her calm good sense and an intuitive sense of human nature instead. Upon hearing her prize student’s voice cut through the between-class vacuum Mrs. Turner was a bit startled, but the no-nonsense experience within her took over.

“How can I help you, Odie?”

When she turned around to see a tear-streaked young woman that had clearly been assaulted, that calm good sense abandoned her and a sense of indignant rage boiled up. Anya Zoltiz was one of the “rez” kids – students from the local reservation that were incorporated in the school district when the Bureau of Indian Affairs shut the funding off for the reservation schools. Because most of them were from impoverished families, the children of local stockmen and ranch owners had been told they were the equivalent of human detritus. It wasn’t any better for Anya that even the “rez” kids wouldn’t talk to because “half-breeds” were considered lower than cockroaches. Anya was one of the better students, one that Amanda Turner knew would be able to make it out of the reservation given a chance.

“Who did this, Odie? Oh damn, come here young lady!” Anya burst into tears again as Amanda Turner enveloped her with a swift hug, and then held her at arm’s length to look at the damage. Odie and Anya began to detail the identities of the offenders and Mrs. Turner interrupted them, “Ok, first things first; Odie, use the classroom phone and dial the front office. I want Mr. Kingley here, now. And I want him to call the sheriff; they have laws against this kind of thing.” She quickly took Anya back to her office and set her down, then opened the connecting door to the classroom next door to speak to a colleague. “Ann, can you cover my next class? I have another situation.”


The Chrysalis Opens….

…and a new baby author is born. Well, yes and no. I’ve been writing for some time; certainly since the husband and I launched a Teaching Grove in Central Texas. This is my first foray into fiction, but the non-fiction part of me will always be sitting there – just waiting to put her two cents worth into the conversation!

What’s to come? A murder mystery that spans late childhood to late teens for a young man who finds his love and his passion only to have his love taken cruelly and his passion becomes his tool for retribution. Sea Snails in West Texas? It can happen….

After that? Hmm….so what if you were taking your breakfast tea and a member of the Shining Court smashed into the window just outside where you were seated? What if you accidentally shipped him all over the Globe to bless your friends with?

Next? Ahh…..We are only now beginning to learn the hologram within our genetic codex. What if Earth were the repository/living library for all lifeforms within our Milky Way?

This is just the beginning….and I am JAZZED! Hope to hear from all of you as these projects and others are re-born with me.

As Always,

Gentle Hugs!