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Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Love is all you need – the last music story

I saw those words written in the sidewalk – Love is all you need – preserved for posterity, for all to see. What a great message to leave in the wet cement, words of wisdom we should all live by. Yes, it is Valentine’s Day – my very favorite holiday! But here’s a thought – what if we could celebrate love every day? Not just relegating it to one day out of the year. Wouldn’t that be something…. My gift to you on this day of lovely celebration of all things love is a love story, a love poem, and tokens of love in the form of some photos from the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland, Oregon featuring the flower of love, the rose. And I leave you with a favorite quote from William Shakespeare, in regard to something that fills me with absolute joy, the lovely strains of music –  If music be the food of love, play on.

Love at the Listening Station

He saw her there, her long brown hair swaying all around her, covered by the black plastic earmuffs of the headphones. Jason came here often, to the place appropriately named An Earful of Music. It was a hold out in the dying breed of independent record stores who tried to stay afloat in a sea of digital downloads. But there were still enough music lovers who wanted the whole package; an album with all the songs, not just the popular ones, with the cover art and liner notes, be it in cd or vinyl format, the latter format making a comeback in recent years. The listening station at the store was like a tree in the forest of cd and record bins. But it was a haven for those who wanted to check out all the new music and even the old music at times. There were four branches of the listening station tree, each holding a cd, a small cd player, and a pair of headphones. Jason walked over and pretended to study the cds available for listening, yet he couldn’t help but stare at her, the woman with the long brown hair. She took no notice of him, she was deep into the music – eyes closed, hands cupped over the headphones, her body moving back and forth in time to the music that only she could hear. And that gorgeous hair, it moved to and fro like a soft and sweet metronome. It was all Jason could do to not reach out and touch a strand; he just wanted to feel a brush of that delicate hair against his skin.

Who would have thought he would find a goddess at the record store? Jason couldn’t help but beat himself up over his poor choice of clothing that day – the threadbare black t-shirt that said “Rock!” on it in large white letters, complete with a hole worn through in the letter o. This was paired with the jeans he had found on the floor of his bedroom; destined for the laundry basket but good for one more wearing, or so he had thought at the time. Jason had meant to shower before leaving his house, but he really needed that cup of coffee he had gotten on his way to Earful, so he had made a last minute grab of a white baseball cap with a bright rainbow colored peace sign on it – it worked just fine to cover his somewhat greasy hair that really needed to be washed. But the goddess, who was standing so close to him, she was dressed as a goddess should be. She wore a bright yellow sundress, light and gauzy, and it twirled around her as she danced to the music. And her feet, with toenails painted in pretty pastel pink, were graced by a pair of sequin covered flip-flops. Jason swore that he could see a glow of pale white light all around her. He was mesmerized! He could feel Cupid’s arrow as it pierced his heart.

He reached to one side of the listening station for a cd that caught his eye, but his eyes weren’t on the cd, they were on the dancing woman. Jason watched in what seemed like slow motion as the cd fell to the floor, glancing off the toes of the goddess.“Ouch!” she exclaimed as she was snapped out of her musical reverie and bent down to massage her injured toes, glancing up at Jason with a goddess of war look in her eyes.

“Oh my god, I am so sorry!” Jason profusely apologized. “It just got away from me – I must have butterfingers – sorry I’m so clumsy. Are you okay?”

“Oh yes, I’ll be fine; it just startled me more than anything, that’s all; no damage done.”

“My name’s Jason by the way – and you are?”

“I’m Isabella but my friends call me Belle.” So now the goddess had a name, also befitting her. Jason would have rather called her Isabella; it moved like a beautiful waltz as he said her name in his head.

“Do you come here often?” Jason asked, and then wanted to smack himself in the head after saying what sounded like the most clichéd pick-up line ever.

“When I decide it’s time to buy some music I like coming here more than anywhere else – I love the listening station – it helps me decide what I really want to buy and sometimes I find new music I haven’t heard that I end up buying.” Belle seemed oblivious to Jason’s botched attempt at conversation.

Jason breathed a silent sigh of relief – at least so far she didn’t find him to be a total loser. He still had a chance to try to speak like a normal person and redeem himself, after looking like both a clumsy oaf and a smooth talking player.

“Yeah, I love this place, especially with all the vinyl they carry now; I’m kind of into that when I can find it. And the listening station is great, you’re right about finding new music; the radio stations don’t always play what I want to hear so I can come here and find new stuff,” Jason said. “And I think it’s really important to support the independent record stores instead of just going to Target or Wal-Mart for music – those places just don’t have the right vibe for buying music, you know?”

“I agree,” said Belle, “We really need to shop local and support the little guy who’s trying to make it.”

Jason reached down and picked up the cd that had fallen and put it back on the holder.

“Can I get you a cup of coffee, to make up for injuring your foot? Maybe we can compare notes on who we like, or you can tell me what you thought of the album you were listening to before my rude interruption,” Jason inquired.

“Thanks, that sounds great. I know a really cool coffeehouse a couple blocks down if that’s okay. They make an awesome cup of coffee with a shot of caramel in it, if you like that. And they also have macaroons that are amazing!”

“Yeah, that sounds like a great place. Are you ready to go?” Jason asked her.

“I’m ready when you are. Don’t you want to listen to the cd you found though?”

Jason just smiled at her; the reason he came to Earful in the first place, to find some music, was so far from his mind now. He was ready to run out of there – quick! – before Isabella, Belle as she wanted to be called changed her mind.

“No, I’ll come back later; it’s not a big deal. I’d rather talk music with you right now than listen to any – and I’d really enjoy a cup of coffee with such a lovely fellow lover of music.” Now that was more like it, sincere words meant to show her that he really was a nice guy and not a dork who fumbled like a schoolboy. And judging by the sweet smile Belle gave him, she seemed interested. She hung up her set of headphones and followed Jason out the door, grabbing his hand as she led him in the direction of the coffeehouse.

Behind the counter, Sean just smiled and shook his head. He had worked at An Earful of Music for 10 years now, and in that time he wondered what it was about the listening station that brought so many couples together. It had to be some sort of love energy that radiated in that spot; why, they had actually had two couples come back and ask to be married there, in the place where they first met. And being such a sucker for a love story, Sean took out the small notebook he kept behind the counter and tallied another mark on the page, entitled Love at the Listening Station.



I am

To his love

Like a flower

Needing rain

To quench my thirst

For him

For his touch

I am

To his love

Like the moon

Needing the sun’s light

So that I may glow

In his presence

When he comes to me

I am

To his love

Like all things

That need each other

In order to flourish

He is my every need


I need him


Coming home

My last post was over two weeks ago, before I left to go back to Minnesota for the holidays, spending time with family and friends. And I wondered how it would feel, going back there after living here in Portland for six months now, having moved here not knowing a soul. I thought perhaps I may find myself in Minnesota, surrounded by my loved ones, with a pang of wanting to move back and be close to them once more. But the truth is, I found myself becoming homesick, for my Rose City – like a kid at summer camp! I kept picturing my cozy apartment, and the streets I love to walk, and most of all the greenery that was still so prevalent even in the middle of December. I bemoaned the lack of color in the Midwest; it was a “brown” Christmas, with not a snowflake in sight.  So I know in my heart where my home is, and as I traveled farther and farther west on the train to go home, I felt my spirits lift in anticipation of the city I have come to love so much, Portland, Oregon.

Welcome Mat

The Universe is rolling out its plush red carpet for me

I sink my feet into it and wiggle my toes, digging in

Feels so good!

I amble down this comfy path

Facing forward, facing towards the place where the sun sets

Slowly though

I don’t want to miss the guideposts along the way

You know, the ones they provide for adventurous travelers

To help them reach their correct destination

And I will know where my place, my home is

With the kind assistance of the Universe

Who puts out a welcome mat

That proclaims

Home Sweet Home

Should I tell?, part 2

I had previously posted in Should I tell? about the decision whether or not to reveal my inspirations behind the words I write. For the most part, I choose to leave the interpretation up to the reader, but in thinking of works I would like to share, there are some where I like to tell the story of their creation. At times it is fun to hear how a writer comes up with their words; that in itself is a story to be shared, enjoyed and gives other writers food for thought. It has been said that we write about that which we know or love, or have lived or experienced. I can see that in my own writing, where many of my short stories have a music theme, which is a great love of mine. Writing was also a means of therapy for me, as I went through many changes in my personal life – divorce, retirement, and basically just waking up to life and who I really am. And there are some poems that are so very personal to me that I just cannot share them beyond my reading of them only. Now with all that being said, I want to share a short story I wrote. It is based on an actual encounter that my step mom had in Wal-Mart, except I gave the ending a bit of a twist. Seeing as how we are into the holiday season I thought it would be fun to post, as it takes place during that season. Happy reading!

Help Needed in Housewares

Mary stood in the housewares aisle in Wal-Mart, trying to decide which type of serving spoon she wanted to buy to replace the one she had used for decades. The plastic handle on the metal spoon she had used for scooping up all kinds of foods had finally cracked beyond repair. She found it a bit silly to place so much importance on an item like this, but at the risk of sounding like an old person, they just didn’t make things like they used to. And so many choices! Almost too many choices it seemed. Maybe that was the young man’s dilemma also, that there were too many choices. Mary noticed the lost look on his face as he glanced from one set of silverware to another.

“Can I help you out at all?” Mary asked.

The young man, who appeared to be in his early 30’s, looked at her with relief. He must have dressed in a hurry, Mary thought. He had on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt with dried paint on it, obviously paint that didn’t make it on the wall. On his head was a baseball cap with tufts of dark hair sticking out from under it in every direction.

“Yes, I could use some advice. I’m having some friends over for a belated Thanksgiving dinner, and to celebrate my new home too I guess. I moved here a month ago – job transfer – and I’m kinda starting over from scratch as far as my kitchen goes.”

“What do you need to buy?” Mary asked him.

“What don’t I need to buy is a better question. But right now I really need some silverware, dishes, basic utensils, and pots and pans would be useful too. I guess whatever a person needs to cook and serve a decent Thanksgiving dinner,” the young man replied.

Mary found out his name was Tim. He had just moved from Wisconsin to Texas and didn’t bring much with him when he moved.

Tim asked Mary, “Do you have time to help me?”

“I have more time than money!” Mary told him.

“Thank you!” Tim sighed with relief. “Most older people don’t have time for us younger people. Not that you’re that old,” he stammered.

“Well, I don’t feel old, but I do have a granddaughter who is 26,” Mary told him.

“No way!” Tim exclaimed. “You certainly don’t look or act old enough to even have grandchildren,” Tim told her. Mary’s looks certainly didn’t match her age – with her full head of blonde hair only slightly mixed with gray and her youthful attitude, many people assumed she was years younger than she actually was.

Mary smiled, “Well, I do have grandchildren – four to be exact. But enough about me – let’s get you what you need for your dinner!”

The first thing Mary did was to take the separate spoons, forks and knives out of Tim’s shopping cart and put them back on the shelf. Tim watched her with a puzzled look.

“It will be a lot cheaper if you buy a set of silverware instead of each individual piece,” Mary told Tim.

Tim looked at what he had wanted to buy and what Mary was suggesting he should buy and did the math.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right about that. I’m not really much of a shopper – I just grabbed the first thing I saw,” said Tim.

“That’s alright,” said Mary. “I’ll help you out and make sure you get the best deals and don’t spend more than you need to. I’ve been doing this shopping thing for a lot of years – you have to pay really close attention. Maybe I can teach you a thing or two.”

“This is really so nice of you to help me. I’ve never put on a meal for anyone besides myself and I’m afraid I didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into. But I feel much better knowing that I have an experienced dinner planner helping me,” Tim gratefully told Mary.

After picking out a nice but inexpensive set of silverware for eight, Mary helped Tim find a set of dishes that included serving dishes also, a few basic cooking utensils and a set of pots and pans that would work just fine but not drain his bank account.

“There, that should be all that you need for your table and some cookware so you can cook your food. And speaking of food, I don’t see any in your cart. Maybe we should head over to the grocery section next and see what we can find there,” said Mary.

Mary turned in the direction of the grocery department, with a grateful Tim close behind, pushing the cart that was waiting to be filled with whatever it was that one made for a belated Thanksgiving/housewarming dinner.

On the way to the grocery department, Mary asked Tim, “Didn’t you already celebrate Thanksgiving with your family a couple weeks ago, when it actually was Thanksgiving?”

“Actually, my folks have been gone for a few years now and I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I grew up here, in Texas, but I ended up working in Wisconsin until now. I was happy when my transfer came through – I still have friends here so I came up with the idea of having Thanksgiving with them – it’s been so long since I’ve celebrated the holidays with family or old friends.”

“No one should be alone on the holidays. I’m so glad that you have friends here to celebrate with. I know how I treasure the holidays with my family,” Mary said. They had made it to the meat department by now.

“What size turkey do you think you’ll need?” Mary asked.

“I wouldn’t have any idea how to pick out a turkey and I kinda had my heart set on ham, even though it isn’t what people usually eat on Thanksgiving,” Tim replied.

“Then ham it is! You can have whatever you want – it’s your party. Besides, I’ve served pizza for Christmas and boy were my grandkids happy that year! So let’s get a big enough ham that you can have some leftovers too.” Mary helped him pick out a good sized smoked ham, and proceeded to show him the cooking instructions, which didn’t seem too difficult. Ham was much easier than turkey Tim decided –a good choice!

Even though the traditional turkey was not a part of Tim’s Thanksgiving meal, he wanted all the other traditional foods. He was pleasantly surprised to find that stuffing came in a box and only took a few minutes of preparation on the stove. Stuffing a turkey would have proved to be a challenge he wasn’t quite ready to face. Into the cart went a can of corn, some heat and serve dinner rolls, instant mashed potatoes (another wonderful convenience in a box!) and a package of ham gravy that Mary assured him would turn out just perfect.

“What about dessert?” Mary asked.

“Well, I know that pumpkin pie is the favorite for this meal, but I’m really not a big fan,” Tim told her.

“Remember, you can have whatever you want. How about a couple of fruit pies instead?” Mary suggested.

“That sounds good. I like apple and I see they have cherry too so I’ll take one of each.” Tim set the pies in the cart, which was a lot fuller than when he had first come to the grocery department. He was happy to see the mountain of items in his cart although the thought of the total at the checkout made him a bit nervous. But with Mary’s kind help, he had all he needed. Or so he thought.

“There are just a couple more things that you need for your table. Follow me.” Mary started off towards the other part of the store; this time to where they sold candles.

“You’ll want to set a nice table, and candles are such a nice touch – your guests will be so impressed!” Mary helped Tim find some elegant taper candles; one set of white and another set of red, just in case he needed some for Christmas entertaining. She also found a pair of simple yet decorative pewter candleholders to put them in. “These candleholders are good for any occasion – maybe for a candlelight dinner sometime, in case you meet someone special?” Mary winked at him.

Tim blushed, “I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, but thanks for the advice. You’re almost like my mother.”

“Well, one other thing a mother would have you buy is some napkins. And not the paper kind – for a holiday one should have cloth napkins. So let’s head over to that section and see what we can find.” Mary found some napkins that once again she explained could be used at a future date and she also explained to Tim the use of napkin rings. She picked out napkins that were darker colors such as forest green, a deep blue and once again red, just in case for Christmas, and found a set of silver napkin rings to match the pewter candleholders.

“You should be all set now. Let’s head over to the checkout and see what the damage is! Oh, don’t worry – it won’t be as costly as you think. Time spent with friends is priceless, don’t you think?” Mary saw Tim smile at the thought of seeing his friends again.

They got to the check-out area and stood in line. While Tim waited for his turn to unload his cart, he turned to Mary. “I can’t thank you enough for all your help. Most people are in such a hurry these days. Why don’t you give me your phone number and after I get settled in I’ll cook dinner for you, just to show my appreciation?”

“That’s awfully kind of you,” Mary said, “but you don’t have to do that. Besides, I’m so busy when I come down here for the winter that I really don’t have a lot of free time. But I like it that way – better than spending it cooped up in the house during the long Minnesota winters.”

Finally it was Tim’s turn to start unloading his cart. As the person at the register started to scan his items, Tim told her “This nice lady here helped me to find everything I need to cook an overdue Thanksgiving dinner for my friends – I was so lost until she took time to shop with me. Isn’t it nice to hear about people like that? I told her she is just like my mother, didn’t I Mary?”

But when Tim looked behind him, there was no one there. He had just been talking to Mary a minute ago. “Did you see where the older lady who was with me went?” he asked the cashier.

“There was no older lady with you – I wondered to myself who you were talking to when I saw you standing in line,” the cashier replied with a look on her face reserved for slightly odd people she came across.

“But that can’t be! I just spent the last 45 minutes walking through the store with this person – her name is Mary – I didn’t just imagine her!” exclaimed Tim.

Or did he? It’s said that there are times when angels come to earth, in human form, to help us here when we need it. Could Mary have been one of those angels? Tim would always wonder about it; who was the kind lady who helped him that day when he was so bewildered? He always told the story, every Thanksgiving, first sharing it with his wife and her family. And yes, he always used the same candles and napkins that Mary helped him find – they always graced the Thanksgiving table. Then as the years went by, he told his children and grandchildren the story when they were old enough to understand. It came to be a traditional story that they loved to hear. He wanted them to hear the story about the kind lady – the lady he believed was really an angel – so that they would always believe in angels too.




A wedding poem

The inspiration continues, my dry spell of writing seems to be over, for a time anyway. While having my tea this morning, during my morning routine of slowly waking up, I was thinking of my children. I live in Portland now, they live in Minnesota, and Thanksgiving will be the first time I won’t be sharing a holiday with them. I’m going back to Minnesota in December for two weeks, to be there for Christmas, and I’ll be staying at my daughter’s house which is actually her fiance’s house until they get married in September of 2012. And I thought of the two of them, how cute they are together and so in love! Then the words starting coming out, so fast and furious like they do when I am in the flow – so fun! I e-mailed my daughter the finished poem, and she wrote back that both her and her fiance loved it! So much that they want me to read it at their wedding – I am so touched! It means so much to share my words, and being able to read the words I wrote for her and her love will be a joy and an honor. This is an occasion where the writing takes on a whole new meaning….

Devoted to Each Other

I watch them together

I see the exchange of love

 As they gaze into each other’s eyes

Adoration so apparent

A sweet hug in the kitchen

A tender kiss on her forehead

Love expressed

In their shy and private manner

There exists between them

A tolerance of individuality

She accepts the unique wall decorations he chooses

While he makes room for all her clothes

This is unconditional love

This is why they speak the vows

Of forever love

And undying devotion

To each other

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