Little Letters: Monday, 3/27/17

Good start of the week to all.  Here I am in front of my laptop, writing. Writing a blog post and not the next great novel, but I am writing and I’m taking that as an inch forward.

The poem I selected to look back on for today’s post, was written very early on in my Instagram poem sharing experiment, one or maybe two years ago.

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I wrote this poem at Occidental College sitting behind an iron fence, on a dark green bench, looking out at the school’s track, while waiting for my daughter’s track meet to begin.  I would arrive, purposefully, very early to all her meets. At least 2 hours because I liked the quiet of that campus, the trees, the benches, especially the view of the track, with its burnt rust colored track, large green expanse, hearing the chinkclinkclack of the hurdles being set up, the grass being mowed, the sprinklers.

It took me back in time to when I ran round and round on college tracks. The hard pain of sucking in air through lungs that burned, face solid and expressionless  while one’s legs churned through runner paces of quick, light, powered pushes of speed.  It almost felt, at times, that I would lift off, take off, go up and away. That feeling, alone, is why I ran.

At the track, eighteen year old me was an embarrassment to my close-knit, glamorous, female centered family.  I sweated. I smelled. My hair was in disarray. I breathed heavy. I looked like dust.

They never came to see. Tracks aren’t shopping malls with cute boys, fried fast foods, and plastic containers of sparkly goop and gob. My female cousins.  They ignored my accomplishments.  Treated them and me like they never existed, taking my mother along, sometimes, with their beliefs that I was “odd”, “fast”, “ugly”, a “loser”, a “partier”, “selfish” for going away to college and the list goes on and on and on.

One day she came. She escaped her close-knit and clannish ways. She got in her car and drove down the 405. She showed up. All made up. All fancy in her beautifully matched outfit, coiffed hair, perfumed heavily, and wearing a bright pink lipstick.

In addition to the glitter that was my mother, I remember she stood up the entire time I ran.  I saw her through the corner of my eye, as I turned each corner of the track, as my legs churned through, lungs burning, as I took flight and was out and up and away.

After, I went to her in the stands. Climbed up the stairs. Folks around her were congratulating her. Fawning over her. Saying this and that. More that, than this, to be honest.  I reached her, tapped her on her shoulder, as her back was to me facing her audience and  she hugged and kissed me, squeezing me back down to her atmosphere of make-up, matched outfits, combed through hair and perfumed air. My lungs burned more. My eyes welled up as I watched her eyes darting around to see if anyone was watching her actions. Always playing to the audience. Playing. Pretending. Wishing. Dreaming.

But the burning of lungs, the almost flight was real, ma.  I don’t have to wish for it. I am.I am. I am.

My flume of escape went far beyond the smeared pink lipstick stain left on my cheek that day in the stands at the track.

That’s what I thought about as I wrote and worked on the above poem, waiting for my daughter’s own track meet.  No plastic pink lukewarm smear shows of supposed female solidarity from me to her, for sure.  Just a loud-mouthed cheering fool who remembers. what I remembered.  And so, I wrote.

– Mona

Leg Warmers

I am proud to call myself a child of seventies and the eighties and I love the way that trends of these by-gone eras have been resurrected, made new again and embraced by young and old nostalgia-prone groovy chicks like myself.
The legwarmer pattern I designed for you follows a basic crochet stitch and puff pattern I came up with a few years ago. The pattern which is easy to follow, makes an interesting texture, and stitches up pretty quickly.
Pattern stitches include: Single Crochet (Sc), Half Double Crochet (Hdc)  and a simple Puff Stitch for variety.  All stitches are suited for the beginner and experienced crocheter, alike.
The yarn I used for the ones pictured was a variegated type by Carons “Simply Soft” which gave it that sort of stripey affect. I think  it would look very rich in a dark solid colored hue, like wine or dark moss, as well.  It’s totally up to you which look to go for, ecclectic or elegant, which makes this pattern very versatile.
Pattern available for $2.00 at Love Crochet Pattern.
– Mona
 

Biting the Bullet

It always seems like I’m always planning my life in the newest planner instead of doing life. Buying the newest one with its cute stickers, sparkly bookmarks and page clips always holds the promise for me that life is about to get grand and my dreams are about to be reached. Inspirational quotes abound from Edith Stein to Jesus Christ himself, in these planners of mine and  I find myself filling pre-made, perfectly drawn weekly squares with words of inspo.

And then it happens. 

Nothing happens.

 I find myself still writing the novel. Still re-editing that short story. Still grappling over tone of that poem about the Port cranes. The floors are grubby and pock-marked, the grass needs to be cut, the bathroom smells like mold and on and on and on. Life doesn’t get grand and dreams are not reached because of a shiny new planner. I end up feeling less like the #BossBabe and more like, well, shit.

Life seen through a glossy plastic planner just gets busier and cluttered with more appointments, events, tasks upon tasks upon tasks interspersed with all the pretty drawings and curly swirling letters reminding me that we are at the end of March, and April needs to be planned out and yes, busy one, we are nearing, in three months time,  the half-way mark for 2017.

And in 6 months time, my only child will be entering her senior year of high school and in a year, she will decide on what college she will attend and in that same year, she’ll be gone from my house, starting her own adventure of planning and living her own life. A part of me will be happy for her. I will be proud. And yet, another part will be scared to death for her and for me. Mostly, for me because what am I if not this other person’s active mother/friend planning life for them and us, spinning a web of “fun, educational, and memorable life experiences” for us to remember for a lifetime. What am I without the role of planner?

Until then, I often ask myself, feigning exasperation, “Can I stop all this planning and organizing and just get to the business of life and living? ” If I’m to be honest, I have to admit to the possibility that maybe I don’t want to stop planning.  I like feeling caught up in this whirlwind of family, dinner, house chores, hobbies, cleaning, gardening, driving here, driving there, working out, writing, blogging, and making things because it makes me feel real, full, significant.

I don’t even know if I can live without having a plan, anymore.  Free-wheeling the day is a shocking proposal. What? Just do and just be. WTF!!!! But, I know that one day, that is what I’ll be, another old lady in my small town without a need for a plan and that scares the living crap out of me.

Without a plan my house will definitely go to hell. The bathroom and kitchen and laundry will not get picked up, cleaned up and get done.  I need to write those things down if they even stand a chance at completion because if left to my own devices, the less savory tasks of life, like deep cleaning a toilet or sorting and washing dirty and smelly gym wear will not get done. They will sit and be. Would that be a good thing? I can’t even remember.

Then there’s my writing. Yes, let’s mention my writing. That little albatross I’ve been carrying around my neck for the past 30 years is in definite need of a task list. So, there it is. Once again that dream of mine that needs a plan is in my sight.  I can see it. Yes, I can! It’s there within grasp if only I had a plan.  That’s exactly what I need. A plan. First, though I will need a planner to put that plan in. 

This time though I’m eschewing the fancy leather bound, sticker filled, glitter #bossbabe expandable filofax. This time, I’m going for a simpler, more handmade planner that feels more authentic, more transparent, more pointed… A Bullet Journal.  Yes , that’s my new planner for the real me, with hands clenched and wide smile, says the whirling dervish as she  bites the bullet and drives herself to Office Depot for a new set of Flair Tropical Colored Pens.

I’ve got a plan.

– Mona

 

Felt Tassel Necklace

Hi!  Tassels have been on trend for some time now and by the looks of some of today’s fashion magazines, they are still going strong for Spring and Summer, 2017.  Cool, so let’s get to making this very fabulous  Felt Tassel Necklace. 

 

Materials: 

Felt squares of assorted colors that you like. I decided on 7 different colors: light pink, lavendar, hot pink, fuscia, dark turquoise, burnt gold, and cream.

Craft glue

Gold leather cord

Chain for necklace

Gold Glitter Ribbon

Twine

Scissors

“G” crochet hook

Instructions:

I made four tassels of each color but ended up using less than the four I made in each color as I assembled the necklace. It was a matter of seeing which color tassels needed to be included as part of the whole for me,  I hope that makes sense. Anyways, I stored the leftover tassels for other cute and quick makes, like keychains, zipper purse pulls, or earrings, etc.

Okay, onward. First you need to cut strips of felt that measure 4×1 inches. And fringe them by cuting into them, as shown in picture.

Felt Tassel Necklace 2

Then cut some twine for the tassel loop, about 1 1/2 inches.

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Make oval with cut twine. Place a dot of glue at top edge of your fringed felt strip and place twine loop in place.

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Roll tightly and secure end with craft glue .

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Make four of each color. Once you make them all, set aside to dry completely before continuing. I also went back and made the fringes narrower with scissors.

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Next, attach strips of ribbon to the top of each tassel with craft glue. This part was a bit messy. So, please pardon my glue tipped fingertips.

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Felt Tassel Necklace 9

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Set aside and let dry completely.

As they dry, grab a “G” hook … I know, I know, we’re going to crochet… Exciting!  I can barely contain my hooky enthusiasm … yet, I must for the sake of finishing this craft.

With the gold leather cord, make a loop on your hook.

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Chain one.

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Single crochet in and around adding the chain for 3 chain stitches until chain and cord are incorporated. You will begin to add tassels after these initial stitches.

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With loop of leather cord still on hook, slip tassel onto hook by loop

Pull chain over hook.

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Pull leather cord over hook and pull through chain, tassel loop and leather cord. Ch. 1 to secure. Continue to attach tassels to chain in this manner.

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When tassels have been attached, secure ends with a small knot and tuck in ends.  You’re done! Cute, huh? I think so.

Felt Tassel Necklace 1

I’m thinking the necklace would look great against a plain white or black tee, boyfriend jeans and a leather motorcycle jacket. Flats, heels or my personal favorite, flip flops on your feet would be a perfect casual but with a little glitzy fun thrown in.

Anyway you decide to style your new necklace, you’re sure to make a fashion statement with this unique and one-of-a-kind handmade felt tassel necklace

 

– Mona

Book One – Prologue Excerpt

Okay, so people say I shouldn’t be sharing my ideas so freely here.  That I will get ripped off. Well, maybe, maybe not.  One thing I know for sure is I’m not a stupid naive clueless bitch, like I’ve been told by others.  Too nice they’ve called me. And yes, I’ve trusted too much and subsequently, I’ve been hurt. I’ve been ripped off. Lesson learned, and now, I know how to protect myself. I share here in my blog house but now everything is protected and I have an arsenal of legal experts to call upon should the need arise.

With that said, here goes the sharer with her sharing. Please note that I share not because I think it’s good enough to share, but because I want to have the knowledge that some other living person, has read it and thought it either good or bad or has been moved or felt indifference. Someone other than myself has read my story, shared my imaginations, and wondered at possibly the same things I wonder about that come out in my stories: God, faith, pain, hurt, betrayal, goodness, kindness, evil, redemption, greed, the human condition that makes us so very fragile in our very short time here on earth, yet despite our frailties we all believe that we are invincible and we fail to recognize that “bigger than life” is just another way of saying “bigger than God”.  Can that be right?, is what I wonder about and try to hammer out as I write.   Pathetic, my wonderings, I suppose, but that’s what I am….the pathetic reluctant reclusive writer who today shares her work in progress.

 

Book One – Sin / God Had Use of Me

In the dead middle of the sweating night,

I lost my name; and that was my delight; . . .

The mirrors melted down and flowed away,

And God had use of me on that dark day.

Theodore Roethke, “The Dark Angel”

Prologue

June 11, 1998

10:00 p.m.

St. George Catholic Church Rectory

Conrad, California

(A Northern California coastal town that is situated across the San Francisco Bay)

Martin sat by his bedroom window looking across the bay at the car headlights that bounced off the water as people made their way home across the San Mateo-Hayward bridge toll.  Every night he sat in this spot and counted the cars that made it over to Hayward and then back again to Conrad. For each car he counted, he drew a line next to the written date on the legal pad balanced on the window sill.

Yesterday he had counted 469. The day before 532. The day before only 184, but that was probably because it was a Sunday, he surmised. Less people going to work, he reasoned. He was thinking of other possible things that could keep people from going across the bridge when he felt a familiar hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t startled. He never was. Not anymore. After all these years, he knew who it was.

“Sit, Martin. Today is the day.”

Finally, Martin thought. After all these years, he was more than ready.

“I can’t see you,” Martin whispered towards the shadow, as he turned away from the window and faced the shuffling sound coming from the center of his bedroom. “I can’t see you.”

“Does it matter, Martin?”

“Yes, it does.”

“There is nothing to see, Martin. Nothing for you to see.”

“But you promised that I would gaze upon your face on the last day.”

“Really, Martin? Last day? Isn’t that a bit over dramatic and biblical sounding? Gaze upon my face on the last day? Ha, ha, ha. Martin, you’re really too much.” The high pitched voice of the shadowy figure let out a raspy clicking chuckle.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“You amuse me, Martin.”

Martin realized in that moment that he had grown tired of this person, or thing, or shadow or whatever it ended up being that had been a regular visitor of his for the past  23 years and he let out a deep sigh.

“Would you like to know what I’ve been laughing at all these years?, Martin”

“23”

“23?”

“Yes, its been 23 years.”

“Really?  I could have sworn it had only been 5 years or so.”

“You weren’t always moody, only in the past five years you’ve become such a mean son of a bitch. You were actually good company at the beginning.”

  “Whatever Martin. 5 years or whatever, does it really matter? Really, you are such a pain in the ass. I’m so glad that this will all end soon.” He let out a long exhale. “ I want to explain to you why I’ve been laughing at you today and everyday I’ve come to visit you. Aren’t you curious?”

“ Not really. I’m used to people laughing at me. Being the joke doesn’t bother me, anymore. Reggie says…..”

“Oh, who the hell cares what Reggie says or thinks. He’s wrong Martin. Reggie is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. God!!! I hate that man! “

“Reggie?”

“Stop Martin. Focus, Martin. You must know, why I’ve been visiting you. Let me begin. For the past 5 years I’ve been watching and laughing at you and your buddy Reggie’s blind devotion, faithful fellowship, constant belief that this particular holy torture both of you endure day after day serves a greater purpose, a greater good, a higher power and that it would all end one day and in its’ relief, you would find the glory your heart burns for, lives for, sacrifices for. Him.”

It was pitch black in the room now, but Martin could feel the brush of the shadow’s cloak on his upper arm.  If he reached up he could grab hold of its arm, wrap his other arm around its waist, and push and pull it down to its evil knees. Wouldn’t that be beautiful, thought Martin. To give a push to this hissing shadow.  Perhaps he could. He wasn’t entirely broken. Reggie didn’t think so. He told him that every day.

“You’re not a splinter Martin. You’re a whole piece of wood. You are, friend. You are.”

Father Martin De’Brosian’s lost agency suddenly awakened with the recollection of Reggie’s words and the thought of landing one good punch on this shadow.

“Martin?” The shadow’s craggy hands reached out, placed them alongside Martin’s face, covering his bandaged ears and shook his head hard. “You there, nut case? You need to know….”

His hands. The shadows hands smelled like balsam wood. An oil scent. He knew that smell. That stench. Reggie had brought him a gift from a colleague that smelled like balsam wood.

“Save it, you pasty parasite. I know who you are. Maybe I always have.”

“Ohhhhh yesssss! I almost forgot you’re one of the chosen ones who KNOWS!!!!! Tell me Martin, what do you know? WHAT IS IT THAT YOU KNOW about US?”

So that was it. There was an Us. Not a Him, like he had wanted to believe. Needed to believe. Perhaps Reggie and him had been fools, all along. No, it couldn’t be so. No. There was something else and with the utterance of the word “us”, it all became clear to him. Crystal clear.  Martin understood.

“Listen, you lying spook, I will never tell you what I was told that night by the Angel with the smoke golden eyes. Never.”

“That Angel of yours was Satan, Martin.”

“No, she wasn’t.”

“You’re nuts, Martin. This angel of yours was a she, was she? How would you know what it was? Maybe she was just an illusion of that tired and sick little brain of yours, Martin? Did you ever consider that? Or maybe she was sent by someone to prey on your weak constitution.”

He said ‘weak constitution’ . Reggie always told him that was their favorite phrase. Finally, it’s all coming together. He wondered where Reggie was. If he was home from visiting the hospice in the San Francisco. Could he make a noise that would make Reggie check up on him. Run in and save the day. Reggie could punch this mother fucker masquerading as one of the good guys, right in the kisser. As Reggie powed him, maybe he could slide over him and pin him down, hold his head down while Reggie whaled good on this actor of actors.

“You don’t really think you’re special because you bleed, do you Martin?,” the shadow continued whispering as it tapped its fingertip against the bandaged place where Martin’s hand wound was. “Things that bleed are not blessed, but cursed, Martin. Cursed. You have a God rendered curse on you for being so damn stupid and ugly and vile and worthless and such a vacant hole, just like what is under this bandage.” Tap, tap, tap.

The shadow thing was so close to Martin’s face that his nostrils burned from the petroleum mingled with balsam scented breath this thing’s voice emitted. Martin’s eyes burned from the pent up tears he was determined to not shed. I have to fight back, he thought. I have to fight back.

“Your words can’t hurt me anymore. Or your laughter. Or for that matter, your particular stench. I will never tell you.”

“If not me, who then? You must have told someone. Tell me and I might spare your pathetic life.”

“Stop hounding me you stupid little cloud of worthless puff and shut up already. It is done.”

“Tell me Martin. Who have you told about us?”

“No.”

“Tell me.”

“No.”

The shadow stepped away from Martin and Martin collapsed on the floor with his feet crossed under him.

“You are a selfish piece of crap, Father Martin De’Brosian. A selfish and stupid piece of crap,” the cloaked thing said as he pushed him away with a kick.

“Well there you go. That’s no secret. Everyone knows that I am a worthless piece of crap, carrying these wounds forever for what? Worthless. I am finished. ”

Martin shut his eyes, spread his arms wide, began to laugh at the absurdity of his life’s reality. Then just as a wave of nothingness crept across Martin’s consciousness, a flash of gold fell upon him and the searing pain oddly made him laugh even more so.

In the past 23 years, Martin hadn’t said a word out loud in front of anyone besides his winged visitors, much less laughed, even with Reggie, his oldest and most trusted friend.  Yet right now in this very dark bedroom Martin spoke and laughed. He laughed with such force that his shoulders shook and his fingers waved, his back heaved upward, his knees came up to his chest and his hands shielded his shaking face. From his throat a gurgling, sputtering, wheezy projectile bound laugh came out to break him out of his 23 year confinement. Not since Marcella and he had planned his escape,so many years ago, had he felt so free and so alive and so loved and so full of hope. He was hopeful, again. Finally. He understood it all. Finally.

A watery-like substance began to flow from what he believed were the gaping tiny holes on his body he had lived with for decades. He could feel the streams of liquid that were meandering down his face, neck, chest, pelvis, buttocks and legs, dripping off the tips of his fingers, and puddling around him.

The more he laughed, the more it flowed and as the liquid poured out of him and onto the dark mahogany wood floor of his darkened bedroom, the 23 year old fog from Martin’s mind lifted for the first and last time. No more thick white fog clinging to his brain, his throat, his heart, his very soul.   

“Salve,” someone whispered softly. “Salve, Martin De’Brosian.”

“Salve?  No. Slave to thee.” he whispered back and then Father Martin De’Brosian was no more. The man, priest, lover, friend, father and stigmatist was finished.

– Ramona Reyes

March 22, 2017

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flourless cookies! Is there such a thing? Yes and they are delicious.

Before I baked these flourless cookies, I was a firm believer that a cookie had to have flour. How else would it hold its shape, I thought.

So after much trial, and even more error, I  happened on this experiment with ingredients that I’m happy with.

They are super easy to make and pack a huge protein punch, thanks to the peanut butter, which might make them a healthier than regular cookie choice.

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookie

 

Ingredients

1 cup of peanut butter

1/2 cup of Brown Sugar

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

2 eggs or to make the cookies, Vegan, 2 Flax “eggs”, which is 2 Tbsp of ground flaxseed with 6 Tbsp of water, mixed together.

1 tbsp of vanilla

Instructions

This is important. Do Not Pre-Heat Oven. I found that if you do, the cookies burn first before they finish cooking.

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients and blend well.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, drop tbsp of dough onto sheet.

Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Take care watching them so they don’t burn but are not undercooked.

Let cool on a wire rack before eating. This will help them set. The consistency of this cookie is slightly chewy, not hard or crisp. Store in an airtight container.

Hope you like them.

– Mona

Little Letters: Monday – 3/20/17

Happy First Day of Spring! I spent the past two days ushering in the change of seasons by doing some yoga and watering my garden and crocheting and eating and fixing up my studio and yes, doing a little writing, just a little, but some and that’s enough, right?

My poetry seems to always touch on the raw and rarefied emotions experienced by all people. The sadness, the hurt, the complex anger and fear that society demands of us to tap down and hide away. Push away, push away, little girl. Play nice and look nice. Well, I refuse to do that. Push away? No. Expose it. Pick and peel away until the wound is out in the open and if one is lucky enough, get a blast of cool air to dry it up and scab over and remain a scar,a final badge of the survivor’s fortitude and belief.

In my attempt to heal and get “through”, not “over” the trauma of my younger self’s lfe, because it’s ridiculous, ignorant, and insensitive to ask anyone to get over a life experience that scarred them and changed them forever. Please remember that.  Yet asking someone or yourself to get “through” it and make peace with it and sit with whatever “it” is, that’s something we can all work on.

Spring Equinox signals a new beginning. A washing away of the grey and dissappointing winter. Wash away, wash away, wash away the judgements and unacceptance of the grime that the world sometimes shakes onto us. Wash away, but what if it doesn’t want to wash away. Stubborn damn dirt. 

It’s okay. This dust. This grime. The not so perfect matchy-match kind of life’s residue. Let the dust of a life well lived settle and breathe it in and sit awhile with it. You just may discover a new friend, a soul mate, a companion, a reality that yes, you can live with. 

Out of a weekend, sitting with my own inner grime, this sprouted: