Opening Day

I was dressed in camouflage, sitting on a hillside and using my sweet hub's binoculars.  Scanning the hillside, I was looking for a bull elk and hoping to get a shot at one.  The sun was shining on the hill and I was looking in all the pools of shade under the trees.  I tried to pick out the shape of an antler, an ear, the white rump, anything.

Antlers!  I looked and looked and looked some more.  There were definitely two antlers, and a big tan body with brown legs kind of splayed out.  The more I looked at that bull, the more I was sure he was dead.  He was utterly still and lying in an awkward-looking position.  Some other hunter must have seen him before I did, and was probably tracking that bull right then.

I looked away and looked back many times and the bull never moved.  No question in my mind, he was dead.  And then the sweet hubs and our towering baby came hiking up the hill toward me (while I was looking on another ridge) and the dead elk must have heard them because he got up and left.

To Be Needed

I am very blessed. 

My house is a disaster.  The laundry I washed two nights ago is still on top of the dryer.  At least it's folded.  The shower doors are hazy, there's hair in the bathroom sink, dishes in the kitchen sink and a spot (more like a REGION) of something sticky on the kitchen floor.  The windows are so dirty that I don't really need window blinds.

Half my house plants are about half dead.  Altogether, that means they're all 3/4 alive, right?

There are all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast in my house.  Fruit, veggies and the turkey are in the fridge.  Everything else is in the pantry.  They are all waiting to be transformed into a Norman Rockwell scene.

Clearly, I am needed.

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Creative Parenting

I am the youngest of four children.  Now, I know this is going to be hard to believe, but sometimes we children fought.  We argued.  We bickered.  We didn't play nice.  I know, right?!

Mom had a great "mom look" that warned us we were about to cross the line.  It usually worked, too.  But sometimes, we just couldn't help ourselves and we kept bickering.  One of Mom's strategies was to  separate us.  "You play in here, and you play in there, and you play over there.  You just pretend you're an only child. You are not allowed to play with each other."  It didn't usually take very long for us to get bored and beg to be allowed to be brothers and sisters again. 

I was about 13 or 14 when my brother Steve (four years older) and I had been picking at each other all day.  Mom finally had enough and told me that if we didn't stop bickering, she was going to punch me.  Don't forget she has a Dutch accent, because the threat of a punch isn't nearly as funny without the Dutch accent. I rolled my eyes and said, "Yeah, right."  Mom had never spanked me, so I thought she was bluffing.

POW!!!  She socked me on my left arm.  You know that meaty spot at the top of your arm, near the shoulder?  Yeah, right there.  The same place where they gave the small-pox vaccine. As it turns out, she wasn't bluffing!  Who knew?

The bickering stopped.

(so did the eye-rolling)



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Snapshot

Isn't it funny how we spend so much of our younger years making our lives more complicated, striving for a bigger house and a fancier car and a more demanding job, only to spend our middle and end years looking for a way to get simple again?

Word Power

I once read somewhere that certain Native American tribes would not refer to a disease or an illness by name. They would use a sort of euphemism, such as “the important thing” when referring to illness. This stemmed from the belief that naming a thing gives it power. I think they were on to something.

It seems abundantly clear to me that the way we think and speak has a profound effect on the way we act. The way we act as a profound effect on the world around us, and sometimes we are completely unaware of the effect we are having.

As children, we were taught that honesty is the best policy, to say what you mean, don’t beat around the bush and if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I’m starting to understand about that last one.

Here’s an example. The hubs and I agreed very early on to not carelessly throw the word ‘divorce’ around. We were both of the opinion that once you say a thing like that, it starts to work into your brain. Listen up, folks! We were right! Trot that old “D” word out at every argument like some kind of weapon and, sure enough, it becomes the sword that kills your marriage. We don’t use the word, lest in naming it we give it power.   Another reason is that we both agreed that if the "D" word ever did come up, we needed to know to take it seriously, and not dismiss it as an empty threat.

It only makes sense. We all know we shouldn’t say unkind things to our children. We don’t want them to grow up scarred by our words. Same deal with marriage: we don’t want it to grow carrying scars from our careless words.

I think our thoughts, words and deeds are all aspects of the energy we put forth into the cosmos. All that I am or ever will be is encapsulated in those three things, and maybe that is the composition of my soul….my thoughts, words and deeds–touched by a divine spark. Yeah, yeah, maybe it’s heresy, but it makes sense to me.

Changing the way you think can change the way you act. Being mindful of your words will keep you careful in your thoughts. It’s a great circle, each portion having small value except that, taken with the other parts, it makes a powerful whole.

It’s a theme that draws a strong connective thread through cultures, time, distance and duty. Think about the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.” Other variations of that same idea include fickle fate, tempting God, tempting fate, and so on. Reveal your fears and the gods will enjoy testing those very fears. Boast too much and the gods don’t like it. They will find a way to humble you.

What does it all mean? We all get our lifetimes to figure it out. I’m a long way off from achieving wisdom, but I’m starting to get an inkling:

Speak carefully. Speak well.

Act carefully. Act well.

Think carefully. Think well.

I’m learning to do it. I make a new resolution to be better at it every day. I tell myself I will keep my rapier wit within the bounds of kindness. I will put my fears aside and choose to be braver. I will NOT reveal my fears to the universe, as my fears are already strong enough and require no additional power. I will trust my faith more, question my heart less, remember that my words can be weapons, and be sure to keep the gentleness in my hands, and in my face. I will put forth into the cosmos the positive, pleasant, joyful energy which I hope to receive.

A New Endeavor

My novel has been e-published.  !!!   You'll find it, "A Gathering of Light" on Amazon and Smashwords. It's very exciting to see it there, and I hope to someday see it in print.  Random House?  Are you listening?
Funny thing, though.  Once I saw my baby on the website, available for sale or a free sample.... it felt a lot like sending my child off to school.  Except this school was going to be full of judges!  My tender baby who has been in my care for so long, is out there, facing the world all alone.  All I can do is hope that I did a good job getting her ready, and then see if she flies!

Also, check out my new blog page about "A Gathering of Light".


Confession

Hi.  My name is Payson Cousin and I am a messy cook.  I am.  I keep my house straight, but my kitchen after a big dinner is a disaster area that deserves FEMA attention.  I also cook by seat of my pants, as it were.  Almost no recipes.  This is not a quality my sweet hubs especially admires.  He wants my lasagna to taste the same way every time.  I haven't managed to get it the same TWICE in 25+ years.

I added a dash of smoked paprika to my salsa and he hated it.  Sorry, honey.  I didn't mean to screw it up on you.  Then I made a pot of Posole and for flair, threw in some chipotle peppers.  It should have been good, but the green chilis I used came from our garden.  They are so hot that you can't exactly TASTE anything.  You just burn.

So Thanksgiving is coming.  Can you imagine what my kitchen looks like after Thanksgiving?  I cook everything from scratch, mind you.  No instant or pre-packaged anything.  No frozen pies.  My kitchen will be covered with flour, splattered with fruit and divinely fragrant.  Every bowl, knife and pot I own will be either full or dirty.  I have my tried-and-true ways of getting a moist turkey and smooth, flavorful gravy.  But my cranberry relish is a little different each year.  This year, I thought I'd throw in some pomegranate and see what I think.  The pies?  Who knows.  Whatever grabs me.  I have to make pumpkin pie because it's my favorite.  And I have to make pecan pie because the sweet hubs likes it.  The rest is up to my whim.