The Ten of Swords

And do you feel scared, I do
But I won’t stop and falter
And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better
Woah woah woah woah, woah woah.

“Things Can Only Get Better,” by Howard Jones

Things can only get better, especially when things are at their worst. That’s the meaning of the Ten of Swords. I drew the card this morning.

On Saturday, I felt like the person depicted in the card—wounded, defeated, and fallen. In that place, you can either give up or use the time to breathe, reset, get up, and move on.

This morning, I’m choosing to move on, and things can only get better.

How It Happens


when I drive away from an unscheduled overnight with my boyfriend

when a heavy wind in the night blows leaves off of trees, baring witness to the change of season

when the creek that ran dry for so long rushes with water from a steady rain

when I pass and wave at the mail carrier for whom I will be substituting

when Fred sees me and cries his meow saying, “just where have you been? I’m hungry!” then, sated, curls beside me on the bed

when Gracie returns from her walkabout, satisfied that all is well with the land

when a stocking hat, two oil lamps, and a lit candle are enough to keep me warm in my tiny bedroom

when I hear the sound of rain on the roof, but I am dry

then I wonder: how did this happen? how is it that I am here? from where did the strength come to change almost everything in my life so that I can now see the likes of falling leaves and rushing creeks that make me cry?

how wonderful and marvelous it is to love and appreciate one’s life

Working the Graveyard Shift

I was a zombie in a graveyard last night, so I literally worked the graveyard shift (rim shot).

Each year, Short Mountain Distillery Haunted Woods benefits the Short Mountain Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary and The Cannon County Rescue Squad.

In the graveyard, the headstones glowed with floresant paint lit with black lights and so did the skeleton bones that were scattered around. I held two skeleton hands in my coat sleaves and made shuffing zombie gestures and groans as the quests approached. When everyone was looking, I dropped a hand and looked at it sadly, which always brought a laugh. But it was a distraction. While their attention was on my lost hand, Zombie Kenny jumped out from behind the groups. After the screams, I’d point and zombie laugh at the group with my other hand.

It never got old.

The Haunted Woods are next weekend too. Come on out if you want a good scare and a fun time for a good cause.

Friday October 25th
Restaurant 11am-9pm
Distillery Tours 5pm
Haunted Woods 7-12midnight
Live Music 6-8pm

Saturday October 26th
Restaurant 11am-9pm
Distillery Tours 5pm
Haunted Woods 7-12midnight
Live Music 6-8:30pm

What Do You Believe Happens after Death?

Acorn

“What do you believe happens after death?” I asked Førge.

We were driving to the house where we’d been caring for a man named Be, both of us members of a community hospice care team that had provided Be with round-the-clock care for three weeks. Be had died the night before.

“Energy doesn’t just go away. I believe our energy becomes a part of something larger,” Førge said.

Be had always been something larger. I’d known them for less than a year, but each encounter left me feeling joyous. Their smile was delightful, and seeing it made me smile too. At community events, Be naturally held court. They often spoke of chosen family. Be once went on a cruise, sailing on the Queen Mary II. They wore a fabulous blue gown to the captain’s dinner and won the prize for best dressed. Be lived life large.

“What do you believe happens after death?” Førge asked me.

“I don’t know what it will look like or where it will be.” (I stopped to keep from crying.) “But I believe it will be just fine, whatever it is.”

“I believe in Love,” I continued. “Love will continue. Each of us will go on in Love after we die.”

Be loved to Love. I saw this most profoundly through their expressions of gratitude. In the last weeks of Be’s life, they were dependent on others for everything. “Thank you,” they’d whisper as they hugged me to get in and out of the wheelchair to the bathroom. “Thank you. I love you,” they’d say when someone said goodbye after a visit. I can only assume that this life of gratitude was the way they lived throughout their 90 years.

Love past. Love present. Why would we think there would be anything other than Love future after death?

I was driving when Førge texted me that Be’s pain medication was being increased. I pulled over and wrote the following, and I was fortunate enough to share it with Be and with others. I don’t know if Be heard it, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they know they were/are Loved, that they Loved/Love, and that Love will go on. I believe, this Be knew/knows. (Verb tenses get clunky when you’re writing about eternity.)

Release the pain and suffering you have experienced these recent weeks. For any harm you have caused in the 90 years of your life, you are forgiven, just as you forgive any harm you have known from others.
Embrace the love you have given and received not only during weeks of illness but also for the entirety of your life. Let go to go on in our memories, and let go to go on to the mystery that awaits us all.
Be blessed, Be.
Blessed Be.

Be

Murderer

Fred is old. Sixteen years old, the best I can guess. He’s cuddly and loving. He’s a great companion. He’s also a ruthless killer.

I worried about how he’d adjust to moving to the ridge. He’s been an inside cat all his life. The move meant he’d become primarily an outside cat. I took him to the vet for the first time in years to get his shots. I bought him an expensive seresto flea collar. After we moved, I gave him his favorite treats repeatedly to reinforce the idea of home. I did everything I could think to do to make the transition successful.

I shouldn’t have worried. Fred loves his new freedom.

One morning while I was away, my landmate sent me a picture of Fred under the house, standing over the fresh kill of a rat. I looked for the rat when I got home, but it wasn’t under the house. I knew before I found it that the rat would be somewhere in the house, and I was right. Fred left the headless rat on the floor beside my bed.

Yesterday, I walked into the bedroom to find a decapitated mole and two, kidney bean-sized aborted babies. One of the babies squeeked and squirmed as I grabbed it with a paper towel.

Fred is a murderer, and it seems he’s proud of it. Just look at him. His stare is paralyzing. I’m afraid to go to sleep at night, not because I’m think he’ll hurt me, but because I’m afraid of what new dead offering he might bring.

The Night Sky

The picture, taken with my cellphone, doesn’t capture the magnificence of the night sky as viewed from the ridge where I live.

It was too hot to sleep in my bedroom last night. After turning in the bed, trying to find a comfortable portion, and sweating all the while, I laid a blanket on the small deck outside, made myself comfortable, and watched the stars. I thought about how, before I moved to this place where there is little light pollution and dark means dark, I went for weeks—even months—without looking up. Where was my attention if not turned to the natural glory around me? I may have been too turned inward to notice the sky.

Looking at the stars, it doesn’t take long for me to turn inward anyway. As I look, I think two things at once: Given the vastness of all that is, how is it that I am? And: Given that I am in the midst of this great vastness, how can my response be anything other than gratitude?

May I stay in the middle of those thoughts, humble and grateful at the same time.

Apple Fried Pies

When I was a kid, Daddy made fried pies. This wasn’t a weekly thing, but happened a few consecutive weeks throughout the year. He used to put a fried pie in my trumpet case. I’d woof it down in the band room storage closet before rehearsal. Think of all that sugar and pastry gumming up my trumpet 🤮.

Fried pies are about the only dessert that Daddy made that I haven’t continued to make. Until now that is. That was his pastry board, wooden pastry bowl (not pictured), and spoon. I made these pies for a pot luck, and they turned out pretty good.