I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Home again home again, jiggity jig

Big old tree
Home again. It's so lovely to be in my own bed, my partner sleeping next to me, dark outside as I begin my Sunday morning meditation. And this morning, it's exactly how it feels. I've spent the past few days enjoying the rhythm of my usual routine, comforted by the walk to the bus, the coffee shop crowd, my friends at the gym and yesterday, our usual Saturday morning walk. It feels so good to leave, because then I get to come home again and enjoy the days filled with the dance I've created in my retirement.

This year at Vashon Island, we spent an incredible five long days together. There was only one day, last Sunday, when we doubted the wisdom of staying for such a long time. We worked hard that day, and at the end, we decided that we were done with work and would take the next day as an "adventure day" and explore the island. That's just what we did, and by the time we met Monday night to discuss what to do next year, we decided that five days and nights were perfect and will do the same again next year. Deb will facilitate again, and lead us in our writing prompts for a second writing retreat. Five of the six of us agreed to come back next year. Sadly, Sally (who travels from Colorado) has decided not to come back next year. She missed last year's gathering, too, because of illness, and struggled again this year with some physical problems. At the end of September 2016, the rest of us will be back together again at this wonderful place, for our fifth reunion.

And I've been given some incredible tools to improve my writing, starting with Stephen King's book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. This is not one of those books to go roaring through, hardly finishing one page before rushing off to the next, but one to savor, and read again and again. It's broken into three parts, and the first is about his early life and the struggles he and his wife Tabitha had in those first years before he sold Carrie, his first novel. I didn't realize they were so broke that they couldn't even afford a phone. Or that he was an addict and struggled with alcohol and drugs for many years. He says he doesn't even remember writing Cujo, he was so drunk.

In 1999, King was almost killed when he was hit by a driver who veered off the road and struck him. He endured five operations and spent a month in the hospital. I remember when it happened; it seems amazing to me that it's been well more than a decade ago. King wrote On Writing the next year, and it was reissued again ten years later, in 2010. I love this book and will cherish it. Deb scoured the bookstores around her home and brought each of us a used copy for the retreat. All I can say is how grateful I am and how much I needed this book. I also found this wonderful link to Stephen King's Top 20 Rules for Writers that pretty much sums up his writing philosophy.

I could go on and on about the retreat, what I learned, and where I intend to go from here, but first I need to process it all and consider how I will rearrange my mornings so I can spend some time writing in my journal. Yes, I've started keeping a journal again, after so many years away from any sort of writing in longhand. I still laugh at how strange it felt to write that first prompt; it's been well more than a decade since I wrote anything more than a thank-you note. Everything else has gone the way of the keyboard or my smartphone. Or even, thanks to Siri, speaking my texts into the phone! In my work, it was rare that I wrote anything down, although Mickey, my boss, never stopped taking notes and writing by hand. Now it's eight years since I left that world, and time has only made it less likely that I would take pen in hand and write for the fun of it. That will all change now.

The day after I arrived home the weather changed. After a week of lovely sunny weather, the rain returned, along with lots of wind to blow the leaves around, and it's been just wonderful to experience the colors of the leaves on the trees changing, the wetness, knowing that I am now a true Pacific Northwesterner with a closet full of proper clothing. It makes all the difference in whether one enjoys the rain or not. I also remembered why we PNWs don't use umbrellas very often: they turn inside-out in the wind.

Even though I love the fall weather, I don't necessarily love walking for miles in a driving rain. Yesterday morning it looked like that would be what we'd have as I drove to the meeting place for our Saturday walk. Dark threatening skies, gusty wind and the forecast for rain almost kept me from going. I'm so glad I did, though, because other than a measly little mist now and then, we were rain free. My shoes didn't even get wet. I stayed for coffee afterwards with the ladies and then headed to the Farmers' Market. I've discovered a wonderful rye made by Sophie, a young woman who makes dense sourdough rye bread from organic ingredients. Check her out at her home page. I cannot get this bread anywhere else, it seems, so I'll enjoy it as long as the market is open. Ours doesn't close for the season until the Saturday before Christmas, and then reopens in April.

When we decided in 2008 to move to Bellingham, we thought it was a quaint little college town, but I've discovered it's so much more than that. Situated on Bellingham Bay, I knew we'd have access to the ocean and consequently the sea breezes that cool us during the summer, but I didn't know what a vibrant community of organic farmers and excellent food and restaurants we would also inherit by moving here. It's my home, a really lovely place to return to after being elsewhere. Next month I'll travel to Florida to be with my sister for a week, and I'll not only enjoy the visit, but I'll get to come home again, jiggity jig! (Did you remember that old Mother Goose poem from the title of this post?)

To market, to market to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again, jiggity jig

As you might be able to tell from the tone of this post, I'm really happy right now. My tea is now gone, my partner still sleeping lightly, no sunlight yet as there's another half hour before sunrise, but the day is begun, and my Sunday opens in front of me with myriad possibilities for enjoyment. I know that there will be other Sundays when I am not feeling this way, but that's for then, not for now. Today I give thanks for all that I have, and I wish the same for all of my dear blogging friends. Until next Sunday, I hope the week will bring you lots of love and light.


Coltisor de Rai said...

A beautiful sunday and relaxing to you!

Marty said...

What a lovely post. I smiled through it.
Yes! to Stephen King's book. I loved it, too, and I think now I'll go back into it. My reaction to it was identical to yours; I really didn't know much about him. I just don't read his books; I don't enjoy scary. I do admire his ability, however, not to mention his prolificness (new word!).
Your trip sounds a success, but your reaction at your return sounds familiar. I do love my routine and am always so happy to settle back into it.

Sandi said...

Lovely thoughts this morning, DJan! I'm feeling much the same way - still processing the amazing days on Vashon, and enjoying the return to a routine that is comforting, but slightly altered -in part through what was learned. The Stephen King book is so wonderful! I am thrilled that Deb was wise enough, and generous enough, to provide us copies, as I probably wouldn't have ordered it, due to not reading his genre. I'm feeling like you this morning - happy and grateful for every aspect of my life right now.

Anonymous said...

What a life!

Linda Myers said...

I love your Sunday morning posts!

I am reading Stephen King's book each evening before I turn out the light. I've read it more than once before but it is still fresh.

I am still processing the Vashon experience as well. As I said then, I am amazed at what comes through my pen onto paper when my brain stays out of the way.

Linda Reeder said...

I'm working my way through Stephen King's book very slowly. I have trouble finding time to read these days. I had to buy the eBook version for my Kindle because the print was too fine and I couldn't read the book in dim light, as i need to do when i read in bed. I am, however, very grateful that Deb had a copy for me too, and I will keep the actual book as well as the virtual one.
We have sun again this morning after a story day. The ground is littered with "fall". We'll watch football this morning -SEAHAWKS!- and then go for a walk this afternoon. Unlike you, we are slow starters in the mornings.
Happy week to you too.

John's Island said...

Your being happy made me feel happy as well. You left me such a kind comment this morning on my blog ... and I am lucky to have found Eye on the Edge as well! You know, we really have a lot to be thankful for and your post today is a great reminder. The Stephen King book on writing sounds so interesting ... but one thing is for sure: you are already a great writer so I'm not sure there is much room for improvement. :-) Well, that's the way I see it. Have a fine week ahead DJan!

Far Side of Fifty said...

You are happy and content...I think I said that the other day...but it is so true! It is good to get away sometimes, I missed my yearly retreat with my daughter scrapbooking...I only made it there for a few hours one day...caregiving calls sometimes:)

Linda Hoye said...

Kings On Writing is indeed a classic. I've read it multiple times and will read it again too! I love hearing about your retreat--such a blessing to have found, and to spend time with, kindred spirits isn't it?

Elephant's Child said...

This is a truly beautiful post. I am smiling with you, and love the way you are nestling back into the comforts (and the excitements) of home.

Gigi said...

I'm so glad you are home, safe and sound. Have a great week.

Red said...

I must look for Stephen King's book. It's a neat combination...biography and writing.

Rita said...

Yes--I remembered the Mother Goose rhyme right away from the title. I am glad you are home. It is always good to be back home again. You will enjoy visiting your sister next month, though. That bread sounds delicious and healthy. You do live in a marvelous place!! :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Somewhere I have that book. May have to go look for it now. I worked one summer in Maine close to where Steven lived. Never saw him though. What I enjoy about his books is that they are LONG. You never feel cheated and he never bores you. Today writers think under 200 pages is a book.
Sometimes we need to go away to really appreciate our home. It makes comfort and familiar almost seem fresh with renewed appreciation.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Everything about this Sunday's post says "contentment." I may have to get King's book, too, because it sounds interesting at several levels. And I suspect it would give me some new inspiration for my blog. Your comment about writing by hand is interesting.... I do think it makes a more direct connection with our head or heart or wherever our need to write personally is centered. Hope your positive energy sustains you all week!

#1Nana said...

I think Vashon was a transforming experience for you. You sound so settled and content, yet your writing early in our retreat was searching. I, too, an still basking in the glow. I am so grateful for the friendships we have grown over our four years together. I'm looking forward to next year.

amanda said...

I can feel your happiness in your writing and I love it.
PS: Bellingham sounds absolutely wonderful.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Glad you enjoyed your retreat and yes, there is no place like home if its your home that you have designed just right for you.

Thanks for the referral on Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I have booked marked it as "I plan to read" on my bookshelf http://www.shelfari.com/rhapsodyphoenix. I've also added the link Stephen King's Top 20 Rules for Writers to my blog links so i don't forget.

You have a fabulous weekend.