Drabble

I learned a new word recently. Drabble. According to wikipedia, “A drabble is a short work of fiction of around one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.”

To this I say, challenge accepted! And I soon discovered that once I started to drabble, I couldn’t stop. (Yes, I’m officially turning this word into a verb.) I like it so much, this may become a regular thing in my blog.

So, without further ado, here are my first 4 drabbles. Feel free to drabble in the comments section! (Or just comment. That works, too.)

On the Brink

I stand at the edge of the cliff, taking in the view. It’s comforting to feeI small by comparison. Nature, man. Who can top it? It embraces me, cradles me in its loving arms. I’m a tiny part of a much larger whole.

Awe is such a heady feeling. Just breathing it in. Just being. I’m renewed.

How can people look upon this beauty and still jump? How profound does your level of despair have to be before the tears in your eyes make you blind to this miracle, this splendor? Maybe, just maybe, some people think they can fly.

 

Cheese

I truly believe that there are few things in life that aren’t greatly improved by extra cheese. I could guzzle a cup of melted cheese, tilt my head back and pour it down my throat, with no regrets except for the lack of free refills. It couldn’t be less healthy than a slurpee or a shake, and it would be infinitely more satisfying. But I’ve always been more savory than sweet.

There’s nothing like looking forward to mozzarella after a particularly hard day. Who needs drugs or alcohol? Give me cheddar or feta, and all my cares slip away.

 

Pathetic

“You’re so loved it’s pathetic,” he said. And deep down, I knew he was right. I have amazing family and friends. They lift me up. They carry me forward. They bear witness. They buffer me from life’s tempests.

As isolated as I often am, I’m never truly alone. Knowing that sustains me. It makes all this possible. All this abundance. All this beauty. I’m really rich in the only ways that matter. Life is such a gift when it’s filled with the lives of others.

“You’re so loved it’s pathetic,” he said.

And yet he still left me.

Dumb ass.

 

Going Home

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. At least that’s the current wisdom. And I tend to agree. Usually.

But not when I’m trapped in an airport on Thanksgiving day, imagining the turkey getting cold and gossip getting hot. Not when I’m paying too much at Starbucks when I’d much rather have my sister’s apple pie. Not when they’ve lost my luggage and my rental car reservation and I feel my throat getting sore, and there’s no wifi and my book isn’t in my carry on.

I’m grumpy and tired. Screw the journey. I just want to go home, please.

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Exploring Oregon: Shore Acres State Park

I just got back from a week’s vacation on the Oregon Coast, and there is much to talk about, indeed. It’s gorgeous there in so many unexpected and delightful ways that I’ll be writing quite a bit about it. But I wanted to one of my very first Oregon entries to be about one of the last places I visited, because it was the highlight of my trip.

There are tons of state parks along the coast. So many, in fact, that I barely scratched the surface. But Shore Acres State Park is a gem. Just south of Coos Bay, it used to be the grand estate of a rich timber baron. Thank goodness it now belongs to the people, because it should be seen by all of us.

Not only does it include a lush botanical garden full of such rich floral colors that it practically hurts your eyes, but if you exit from the garden gate you are treated to some of the most stunning cliffside views of the pacific that you’ll ever see. It was hard for me to leave, to be honest. And all of this for a single fee of 5 dollars per car. Not bad.

My pictures barely do this amazing place justice, but if they encourage you to check this beautiful place out, then my work here is done.

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Schooled by a Sacred Lion

I’m in a state of transition and that’s putting it mildly. New job, new (to me) car, new city where I have never been and know not a soul. An epic drive across the country, seeing places I’ve never seen. Hurtling toward the unknown. What an adventure. What a trip!

Most of the time I’m excited. Friends have told me I’m brave, and that they admire me for doing this. But I have to admit that sometimes I’m scared shitless. All this change all at once can crash over me like a tsunami, and I panic. I doubt. I basically freak out. What the hell am I doing?

The other day I said to a friend, “Please remind me I’m not crazy. I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff without knowing what’s at the bottom.”

His response to me was, “Well, seems to me like you already know what’s at the bottom. This is more like ascending a cliff than jumping off. So put on those rock slippers, woman, and get to climbing!”

And just like that, my view of the situation was reframed. At least until the next tsunami. This is a wise friend, indeed. His name means “Sacred Lion”. His mother named him well.

 

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[Image credit: ireminisces.com]

I Wish I Were a Huxtable

I am hardly one to describe the perfect marriage. I appear to be terminally single, and heaven knows I’ve never witnessed a perfect marriage outside of television. But if I ever were lucky enough to be in a good marriage, I’d want it to be just like that of Clair and Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show.

Watching them over the years I’ve seen several aspects of that relationship that appeal to me greatly. First and foremost they saw the humor in life and didn’t take themselves too seriously. That is priceless. If you can be playful in your relationship, you can get through anything.

Another excellent quality is that they had a healthy balance of power. Neither was subordinate to the other. They were a team, and they supported each other.

Equally precious is the fact that they made an effort for each other. They’d go out of their way to do special things. And they clearly still had chemistry.

Okay, so life isn’t a situation comedy. I get that. But The Cosby Show demonstrated what a functional family might look like if ever one were possible. It’s a high bar by which to measure one’s relationships, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

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A Real Cliffhanger

Back in 2005, I took a trip out west with my boyfriend at the time to Canyon De Chelly because I had a fascination with all things Anasazi. The canyon is now a national monument, but people have been living there for almost 5,000 years. Currently about 40 Navajo families are in residence. As with most of the rest of Arizona, the landscape is stunning.

Wide Canyon VIew

To go into the canyon itself you need to take a tour or get a permit. We opted to go horseback riding with a Navajo guide. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone manages to live there, because it is, in essence, a big bowl of sand. If not for the horses, we’d have been slogging along in calf high sand the vast majority of the time, with only the occasional grove of olive trees for shade, and no water to speak of.

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Our guide took us to see some beautiful petroglyphs, and then, further along, some ancient cliff dwellings high above the canyon floor. I asked him if he had ever climbed up there, and he said, “No, because it would affect our bodies.”

I thought that was a curious response, and it had me reflecting upon the great cultural divide between me and this man, who had not spoken much at all up to this point. He began to interest me more than the landscape we were travelling through. I’d ask him questions. He’d pause, as if considering the best way to dole out his words in the most economical fashion. Then he’d respond.

“Have you always lived in this area?” Pause. “Yes. Always.”

Hours later, after his occasional brief response to my inquiries, for some reason the dam seemed to break. When I asked him if he’d ever been outside of this area he paused for a long time. Then he told me the following story.

“One time these people came here and booked a 3 day tour. The lady liked one of our horses so much that she offered to buy it, but she wanted us to deliver it to her home near Boston. So we did. We drove the whole way without stopping. Through many lands. Then we saw Boston.”

“Did you get to see the ocean?”

“Yes.”

“What did you think?”

“It was very big.”

I will always have a mental image of this man gazing out at the Atlantic as if he had just arrived from another planet. “Then we came home.”

At the end of the tour we said our good byes and I realized that this man had a much greater impact on me than I had on him. To him, I’m sure, I was like a brief wind. I wasn’t the first. I wouldn’t be the last. But to me, he was like a stone monument. He would always be there in my mind.

That night we camped, and the next day we drove along the rim of the canyon, stopping at each of the overlooks to take in the stunning views. At the last overlook, the eerie western silence was broken by a strange sound. I couldn’t identify it, and the first time I heard it, I thought it must have been my imagination. Then there it was again.

“Did you hear that?”

“No. What?”

“That!”

I got down on my hands and knees, and stuck my head over the side of the cliff, and sure enough, on a ledge about 3 feet below us was a skinny little puppy. He was shivering and crying.

“Oh, shit. We can’t just leave it.”

“Barb, it’s a 1,000 foot drop.”

“I know. But if I drive away and leave that dog, I’ll never be able to live with myself.”

And before he could say anything, I lowered myself down to the ledge, which, thank God, supported my weight. Don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down…I grabbed the puppy, handed it to my boyfriend, climbed back up and walked as far away from the rim as I could get so as not to have the panic attack that I could feel trying to overtake me.

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Alrighty then. Next. Feed the puppy. And man, he was hungry. He ate half our picnic lunch. I would have loved to keep him, but Florida was a long way away. So we took him to the ranger station, and they told us they’d bring him to a no kill shelter at the nearest town. We had one request.

“Tell them his name is Cliff.”