Freshly Fallen Leaves

(This is something I wrote a few weeks ago. It was not written for this space, but I thought, why not put it here after all. It can sit between the other loose figments of my mind.)

 

Freshly Fallen Leaves

The day had started badly and went downhill from there.

Cathie woke at 7 to the sound of Little One complaining that he could not sleep any more, even though it was Saturday and he did not need to go to school. Before breakfast, the boys managed to get into at least two fights (those were the ones loud enough for her to hear). Older One then refused to do his homework, it being weekend and he wanted to rest. And it was not fair for him to have homework anyway, while Little One just played. Cathie’s husband was still snoring happily upstairs, so no help from him, not today.

Nothing dramatic or even unusual, just the wild goose-chase she normally tackled quite easily with a mixture of routine and determination, but on this day it felt heavier, more unnerving.

At lunchtime she was already wishing it were Monday again, with everyone back at school and her being able to breathe in a quiet house.

In the afternoon, while the boys were having their music lessons, Cathie had just enough time to dash to the library to bring back some books. In the end it was getting late again of course, so she grabbed the books and ran. The shortest route was through the park, on a path lined with old trees she did not know the names of. At least some of them were chestnuts, she suspected. It had been raining, a stormy quick shower that had left the path with a coating of freshly fallen, wet leaves.

These leaves were, as it turned out, extremely slippery, especially if someone was running without paying much attention to their surrounding.

She fell in the most pathetic way imaginable, like a character in one of these old black-and-white movies. Her feet slid forward, she tried in vain to stabilize with her arms, which sent the books flying, then landed on her back, uttering a miserable squeaking sound. The sound embarrassed her more than the fall itself. But the embarrassment came later. First there was a breathlessness, then pain. Then anger and embarrassment. Cathie raised herself up to sitting. Here I am, she thought, hurting and wet and looking completely ridiculous. What a stupid day, stupid leaves, stupid everything! Without realizing what she was doing, she hit the ground with her fist. It hurt too. Great.

“That looked painful”, a voice said. Cathie looked up at the women standing in front of her. “It was.” She could not think of anything else to say, half expecting the woman to stretch out a hand to help her up. Instead, the woman looked at her for another moment, a slightly amused look on her face. Then she sat down next to her.

Cathie frowned. “Everything is wet here. Why are you sitting down?”

The woman still looked amused. “Why are you?”

“I fell, as I think you have noticed. I slipped on these stupid leaves. Now my back hurts and I am cold and wet and I hate this day. Thanks for asking.” That came out snappier than she normally would have spoken to a stranger, but the woman unnerved her.

“I see.” Then, after a pause: “These leaves are really pretty, don’t you think?” She ran her fingers over the wet surface.

Cathie stared at the women, who seemed to be absorbed in what she was doing, touching a red leave here, a brown one there. She seemed to be older than Cathie herself, maybe in her 50ies, but then Cathie had never been good at guessing someone’s age. Dressed maybe a little too thin for autumn weather, so as if she did not care. The hands that were still caressing the leaves looked as if they were used to working a lot.

Cathie wanted to say something, something sarcastic and smart, something that would unload the frustration that had been building up inside her the whole day.

But instead she looked. The leaves were pretty. Some were brown, some red, some yellow, some still green. Different shapes, having fallen from different trees. “Chestnut”, the woman said, touching a brown one. “Acorn” – a dark red one. “Birch” – a yellow one with tiny dark spots. As the women turned her head, Cathy noticed her eyes. They were the same color as the chestnut leaf.

Cathie felt a shy smile forming inside her. “They are pretty”, she said.

“As are your books.” The woman turned her head in the direction of the library books, spread out around them.

“The library – I am late!” Cathie scrambled to her feet, picking up the books, which seemed to be only wet from the outside. She wiped them clean on her coat. “I need to go.” The woman tilted her face up to her. There were fine lines around her eyes. “You might just make it in time – if you don’t run so very fast”, she said.

Cathie shook her head, not knowing if that was her answer or just an expression of her uncertainty. She turned and walked away, books held close to her chest, when she realized how rude it was to go without saying good-bye. Turning again, she saw that the woman had gotten up too. She was walking towards the other end of the park, carrying two heavy looking plastic bags Cathie had not noticed before. As if she felt Cathie’s gaze, she stopped and looked back. Putting down one of the bags she raised her arm to a short wave. Despite herself, Cathie waved back.

When she arrived at the library a few minutes later, the big doors were just being shut.

Oh, well. Cathie shrugged and looked at her watch. She still had some time before it was time to pick up the boys. She could gather some leaves for them. Maybe they would like the colors, and now she could even tell them their names.

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The Sun is Shining!

Yes, the sun is shining today – and it looks like MySestina has nominated me for the Sunshine Award 🙂 Thank you!

It does remind me of those chain letters that where around when I was in high school (yes, written on paper, can anyone still remember them or am I really getting terribly old?)… but it certainly is one of the nice ones. (Not of those that went: if you do not send this on, some terrible accident will happen to you… I always threw does away, and later, when things like that came via email, I deleted them without finishing to read. I do not like being threatened, thank you.)

Anyway, it says that you are supposed to answer some questions from the blogger who nominated you and then in turn nominate some bloggers and think up questions for them to answer.

The “criteria” (which sounds a bit formal) for nominating someone is that the person inspires you and brings sunshine into your live. Ok, here we go, my inspiring sunshine-bringers:

DebWasHere – e.g. On Stars and Bright Lights – for telling great stories full of depth and fun and sometimes sadness.

Filosofa’s Word – e.g. What Have We Become? – for sometimes making me laugh, but always think.

A Holistic Journey – e.g. Lessons From the Dying Brain – for being scientific as well as poetic and really sharp.

Writing for Myself – e.g. growth – for sharing her deep thoughts, for honesty (and beautiful pictures too).

Of course there are more blogs that I could list here… but I guess the whole thing is about choosing some of them, right?

Here are the question I was supposed to answer (plus the answers):

  1. Are you a Hero? – Seriously doubt it. Probably more Miss Caution. But, you never know, depending on the situation, I might choose to become one... 😉
  2. How does writing help? – Writing provides a way out for all those words in my head. Otherwise it gets too crowded and the words get grumpy. Can’t have grumpy words in your head, can you?
  3. How far could you go to be heard, to be recognised? – Not very far, I think. I don’t like to be the centre of attention.
  4. Do you think we are alone in the universe? – Looks like there are a lot of other people around anyway, right? No, seriously, it would seem arrogant to think we are the only ones. But they probably do not want to have anything to do with us.
  5. What is an achievement? – To get one step further than you already were. To widen your horizon. To choose.
  6. Do you read as much you write? – More.
  7. What inspires you? – Different lives, new thoughts.
  8. Do you follow to lead or you lead to follow? – I try to find my own path. Anyone who wants to follow is welcome.
  9. What could you possibly give to the world? – Two great kids, plus my feeble little efforts to be helpful and friendly to anyone around me.
  10. Do you let your failures drive you? – I hope not, but they do tend to linger in my mind.
  11. What’s the one thing that you would you change about this world? – Have everyone feel respect towards everyone else and act accordingly (ok, that is already two… but still)

Now comes the fun part… I am allowed to think of some questions myself… (I guess that is really the reason for those awards: that you can fire your questions into the world!)

  1. Where do you get your best ideas?
  2. What is the most annoying thing that can (and will) happen while you are writing?
  3. How do you handle 2. ?
  4. If you look at your list of priorities, at which number does writing come?
  5. Are you happy with that number?
  6. What situation would justify to sacrifice your computer with all your writings on it?
  7. If you could choose a belated birthday present now – anything! – what would that be?
  8. If you could “beam” one person to your side at this moment, who would that be?
  9. If you could choose one person in the world that would be “beamed” to an inhabited island, who would that be?
  10. If you could recommend one book, which one would that be?
  11. Do you like the person you are now?

Looking forward to the answers you guys come up with! 🙂

Ok, the sun is still shining, it is late in the morning here in Europe, and I choose to go out and mow my grass now! 🙂

Have a lovely sunny day, in spite of all the things that are on the news – which I deliberately have not read yet. That will come later. Now I will enjoy the spring day.

 

Why is it so hard to stop procrastinating?

Just a short question here today: Why oh why is it so hard to stop procrastinating???

I watched one of those TED talks the other day, where a guy encouraged everyone to ask himself the question “What is it you cannot not do?” – meaning what is it you feel drawn to so powerfully that you cannot imagine not doing it? Apart from caring for my loved ones, the answer for me is clearly “writing” (and reading).

But if that is true, why do I then not just sit down and do it? Why do I tell myself that the washing needs folding instead?

Answers, anyone?

(I will check later if anyone came up with a good one – now you have to excuse me, I need to go and fold the washing…)

🙂

Happy Birthday, Blog!

One year ago – after having thought about it for quite a while – I decided to give blogging a try. In the beginning I felt rather shy about it. It took me ages to pick a theme and think of a name for my blog. I tinkered around a lot – not because I am such a perfectionist, but because I did not want to put anything online that looked ridiculous.

I have already mentioned why I started the blog: to give some thoughts a home. And that worked out well. My intitial goal was to post something once a week – no really strict goal, just an idea, a number in my head to prevent me from getting too lazy. After one year this now my 40th post – not a big number, but ok. Especially if you take into account my stupid eye trouble, which reduced my screen time quite a bit.

What took me by surprise was how much I enjoy reading other people’s blogs. I do not follow a lot of blogs regularily, but there are a few I really try to keep up with. It sort of clicked when I read the first posts (with others there was no click at all.) To feel touched by the lives of people you have no other connection with than via their blogs, is special. When I read about their lives, their worries and moments of happiness, I feel worried or happy too. I do care.

So, a big thank you to all of them who share their lives, who have shown me new facets of being. Some of their lives are completely different than the ones I am living, some share some lines. But all of them give me food for thought, a different perspective and sometimes a good laugh.

 

Writing a bit, reading a lot, thinking even more. All in all, this has been a good blog year.

Happy birthday, blog. I will keep coming here.

Posts that never make it

Most of my posts first get written into a small black notebook. A paper one. I scribble while I am waiting for the boys to finish their tennis or swimming lesson. I scribble when waiting at the doctor’s. I try to carry the black notebook with me whenever there might be a chance of some spare time. Pens are living in my bag anyway. At the end of the day, when Husband is away doing sports or we both feel like having a computer evening, I sit down and type it into the other notebook – the silvery electronic one. While doing that a lot of the sentences get re-phrases (made better, I hope), but the core of the thing stays the same. When finished, the draft in the notebook gets a tick. Done with it.

But some of them never get the tick. Some of them never make it online, they stay put in the little black book. Funnily enough, it still feels good to have them written down.

That was the original purpose of starting a blog: finding a home for some of the random thoughts that wander through my mind. Bundling them, putting them somewhere, so that they can stop turning up in my head again and again. Filed somewhere, so to say. I had written down stuff before, loose threads, but it never gave me the feeling of giving them a home. This blog is now their home, if they get read, that is fine, if not, well, so be it then. I am not kidding myself that the world has been waiting for my strange (or boring) ideas. There is a lot of everything already out there. But in my tiny corner of the web all of these thoughts can hop around, and somehow it feels good to give them a home there.

But back to the ones that stay in the book. Sometimes I write something – something that occupies my mind a lot at that moment – and I do not find the time to put it here. And then a couple of days pass, and I would have the time, but I think, hmmm. Should I really put this online? Somehow the need is gone. Maybe there are types of thoughts that prefer to be stuck in the little black book. They seem to be happy there.

(By the way, sometimes I also just sit down at the computer and start writing from scratch.)

(But yes, this post also originally was written down in the small book. Although I changed it around a lot. Sometimes it is easier to re-write it then trying to decipher my own handwriting.)

What was the point of all this?

No idea. Does everything have to have a point, always? (The answer might be yes, but I am not so sure.)

Maybe it is just something that wanted to be written down. In any case the process of writing made me kind of happy, which already would be some sort of point, right?

Good night.

 

Resolutions Part III: The thing about family and friends

I am almost at the end of my resolutions list: Spending more time with family and friends. How is this one coming along so far?

Well, the family (apart from husband and the boys, who I am luckily seeing on a daily basis 😉 ) is not exactly living around the corner, so quick drop-ins for coffee are out of the question. One side of the family is a 4 hours drive away – not too far for the occasional weekend trip, but still not a distance you are keen to cover on a really frequent basis with two kids in the back of the car (plus the driving does take a lot of time out of the normal 2-day-weekend). We have been there in December and are not sure yet when the next trip is going to be. But we will go to see my mum end of this month – flying down for a week during our “Spring Break” (ha! funny word – although it has not been really winter yet, I do not yet believe spring is waiting around the corner). We are all looking forward to that.

What about seeing friends? Some friends I see almost daily on the school yard at pick-up time. It is nice for a quick chat, but it is not the same as sitting down for a coffee somewhere and actually spending some real time together. Which I have a not done very often recently. Not at all this year so far, to be honest.

The problem is, meeting for coffee in the morning takes interferes with resolution number 2, getting more writing done. So I am kind of stuck. But there are a few people I definitely want to meet for an elaborate chat (without kids) really soon.

What I would also love to do is spend a weekend with an old friend who is living about 3 hours driving from here. We have done it before and it was lovely. She does not have any kids (yet), so it was a weekend going back in time for me. Just being responsible for my own needs, not having to check if anyone is about to get hungry (= grumpy and starting fights with his brother) or tired (= same outcome). Doing stuff like going shopping, stopping for a quick bite in a cafe, go home to dump the loot, decide on a movie, go out again, come home late, chat endlessly during the whole process (except during the movie). After a weekend like this my friend and I are completely up to date with each others’ life again, have sorted out the problems of the world as well as our private ones and filled each other in on other people we both (used to) know. My (and probably her) ears are then ringing a bit and I feel a bit high from all that new input, but I am always driving home very happy. And happy to be with my family again – because funnily, it also makes me realise how much I like my normal life too.

So we need to find a free weekend for that again – which is not easy since she is really really busy and my weekends tend to fill themselves with lots of activities (that very often are a bit too much for a home-alone-daddy to handle… like two different birthday party invitations for the boys…). But we have managed before and we will again. In spring. Spring is our visiting season.

Another good moment to get all social and having a party would be my birthday, which is actually approaching rapidly. The last years I never had a party. Not a conscious decision, it just did not happen. For this year I was rather determined to do something – going out with a couple of friends (since I am not so keen on doing all the work required to have a party in our house… on my own birthday). But our primary babysitter did not have time, and the back-up babysitter did not answer my emails. And while I was waiting if she would answer, and while I was wondering where I put her mobile number, I suddenly realised I was not so keen of having any kind of birthday activity after all.

You see, the last weeks and weekends have been incredibly busy and I am starting to feel I am in this reactive mode again – responding to queries, doing things that are expected from me, without stopping to think what I wanted myself.

So I stopped and I thought. Here is the result: I will not have a party. I will not even go out. On my birthday, I want some time for myself, maybe a nice cake (from the shops… I won’t put husband through any cake baking ordeal, and the boys are still too small for it), maybe order some special dinner, getting someone else to clean the dishes. 😉 Take it slow. Have a nice evening with husband (when the boys are in bed). Breathe. Just be.

(Maybe that’s a sign I am getting old…. Oh well. I am probably. 😉 )