Thursday, February 28, 2013


       This is my first attempt at Flash Fiction and I had a blast using the required words in this very short story. Over a period of a few hours my creative juices flowed into the strange story about Rubina. I have no idea exactly where it all came from, but it was a fun adventure.
         The website "Flash Fiction Chronicles"
was recommended to me from an old friend, Doris Dembosky, who has her own literary blog

       I hope you enjoy my story and try your own hand at some Flash Fiction of your own. Good luck!


            “Rubina…Rubina…” the silky voice sighed through the evening gloom, arching over the ragged rocks and melting through the gnarled pinions.
            Rubina froze, icicles of fear piercing her heart. She clasped the precious packet to her heaving chest, looking for the source of the sibilant voice.
            “Rubina...Rubina…why are you fleeing?”
            Rubina stumbled on an unseen stone and fell hard, tearing the corner of her bundle. She lay there, eyes gazing upwards as the heavens revolved on their nightly journey.
            “Rubina…Rubina…” the gentle voice whispered into her ear. “We know your secret. Let us help you.”
            Rubina rose up in terror. She clutched her meager parcel and propelled herself forward. Just ahead the bottomless cavity gaped, dark as a fresh-dug grave.
            Rubina dropped to the edge of the black hole, cradling her lifeless daughter. Pain sliced through her heart, her loins. The birth seemed a lifetime away.
            “Who are you?” Rubina wailed to the stars.
            “Rubina…we are your grandmothers. Give us your child. We will keep her safe.”
            “But why? How?” Rubina cried out in anguish.
            “Rubina…Rubina… you must embrace your future, with love not remorse, with wisdom not shame. Your daughter never took a breath of mortality. We will tenderly care for her until you come to us…”
            Rubina hovered at the edge of eternity, bowed her head, and surrendered Rose to the grandmothers, to await their celestial reunion.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

HINGES...what if...

     Even though I’m a non-fiction writer at the moment, I have notebooks full of ideas for writing fiction set in my area of Colorado. Creating characters for my fiction is a powerful feeling. I get to choose their names, their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as their backstories. Often when I daydream about my characters I find myself pondering the twists and turns their lives can take as I plot my stories. Which leads me to recollect the "what-if's," - the hinges on which so much turned as I've navigated my own life.
     The summer I was eighteen, I was so weary of being good, seriously - I was a good kid.  I was tired of tending little brothers and listening to my other brother's loud music and crude remarks. Tired of my parents constant arguing and harping on me for all kinds of things. I even wanted to go to church but my parents didn't have gas money and wouldn’t let me go. I wanted a taste of what I wasn't supposed to do so I spent my days at the lake, walking in the back way to avoid paying the fee. I met a boy/man named Everett, from Houston and I snuck out one night when Everett was there and decided to lose my virginity. Everett couldn't...ah... perform. What a disappointment, at the time. (FWIW having sex lost its appeal that night, until I got married.) I quit sneaking out after that and turned my sights to college in the fall. But what if.....I would have gotten pregnant.....and married Everett....or been a single mom...or given up the baby for adoption.
     I gave birth to nine children when I was married to my X. The first three were born within two and a half years; the first six children were born in the space of seven and a half years. Then I discovered birth control, to the dismay of X, and spaced the next two children. And then I had my last baby at the age of forty-three, when I thought my body was finished having babies. I love my dear children with all my heart, but what if.....I only had three children, or five....The thought is as foreign to me as committing a robbery. Which of my children would I have not had? Mothering nine children has made me the woman I am today.
     From 1990 - 1995, I owned a health food store - "Mother Nature's."  I LOVED that store! My kids worked there, we had extra income, which was oh so necessary with teenagers, and I became an expert in my field, attending and teaching classes and offering people alternatives to good health. I paid our mortgage, bought the groceries, sent my oldest son on a church mission, bought a car all by myself, and gained confidence that remains with me to this day. X never did like me owning the store, it was something he couldn't control. When my oldest kids left for college I sold the store, telling myself I wanted to travel and not be tied down, but really it was X's constant badgering. Sixteen months after selling "Mother Nature's" I was pregnant with my last child - surprise! I went from being a respected and successful business owner to being "barefoot and pregnant." But what if...I wouldn't have sold the store? Would it have been easier to leave X sooner if I was independent financially? Probably. Would I still have became pregnant? Maybe. I'll never know.
     HINGES...our lives swing on hinges, those decisions we make, sometimes in the heat of passion, sometimes with no thought for the consequences and sometimes believing we have complete control of the choice, only to find out later that we don't.
    I get to control the hinges in the worlds I create, in my imagination that runs silent but rampant inside my head. I like being in control of my fictitious worlds!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Navel Gazing

     I've been doing a fair amount of navel-gazing the last six weeks, after my appendectomy. The surgeon made three incisions, one exactly in my belly button. After three weeks, that incision became infected. I went thru oral antibiotics & topical antibiotics, which made me itch. I’m now using essential oils which are drawing the infection out and are working a slow miracle in healing.
     Several times a day I gaze at my navel as I apply more oils and massage them in. At first I was a little disgusted at how yukky it looked, with the pus and redness. And I whined about how sore it felt too.
     As the days go by and I see small improvement, I’m thinking more deeply about my belly button. My chubby belly is not particularly attractive and someday I’ll tone up those flabby muscles. But it also reminds me of the nine pregnancies I went thru to give birth to my babies. Watching my belly expand to enormous proportions was amazing.
     I further gazed at my navel as I pondered the physical connection it once was to my own mother. She was only sixteen when she married my dad, miscarried a short time later, then gave birth to me when she was nineteen. 
     My belly button had become a symbol of sorts, of my healing on a deeper level.The infections have allowed me to slow my pace and be more thoughtful about my life. Healing, physical and emotional, happens in layers, from the inside out.  I expected to heal quickly and bounce back to normal. When that didn’t happen, I was forced to gaze at my navel. And what I see is a woman who needs to slow down and appreciate each moment, to re-think what I do and where I put my energy.
     Navel gazing has its merits, whether one’s belly button is infected or not. It reminds me of the gift of life that my mother gave to me and of the gift of life I gave to my children. And to have patience with myself.

”…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Grandmother's House

     I loved my Grandma McCrary’s big old Victorian house in Iowa. I visited there as a teen and liked hiking in the fields with my Grandma to check on the quarter horses. They foaled in the spring and we had to make sure the newborn foals were all right. One summer she let me name one of them and I told her to name it “Van,” who was a boy I liked back home. Of course I didn’t tell her that, just that I liked the name.
     My family usually stayed for a week or so, often with other aunts and cousins. The house only had one bathroom and we kids slept upstairs. Grandma introduced us to chamber pots wish I thought were disgusting. Even though I had to go down the stairs and to the back of the house to use the toilet, in the middle of the night, I would rather do that than empty the smelly chamber pot in the morning.
     My Grandma baked her own bread, even grinding the wheat AND she milked her cow and made cheese. She introduced me to those domestic arts as well as how to kill a chicken, slop hogs and gather eggs. When the tornado siren sounded we trundled down the rickety basement steps and sat on old blankets while we listened to the transistor radio. I would gaze at the shining quart jars of beets, pickles and applesauce. My mother was NOTHING like my grandmother so I was fascinated by my Grandma’s skills.
     Grandma had an old blind mare named “Sandy” who had a patient soul. I proudly rode her down to the town arena on Wednesday nights and looked at all the real farm kids race their horses around barrels while I stayed on Sandy, thinking how cool I was. One summer, the night before we flew home to Texas, old Sandy stepped on my foot and wouldn’t move. By the time my brothers pushed her off my foot it was black and blue and swollen. The next day I had to wear my white Sunday shoe unbuckled and my foot hurt like heck for days.
     The Town Library was just down the street in the enclosed porch of two old ladies, whose names I have forgotten. It was only open a couple of times a week so I would trek down the sidewalk and choose new books. The old ladies said, “Oh, you’re Marion’s granddaughter from Texas,” and I would smile, thinking how nice they knew who I belonged to. Then I would haul my books up the hill and spend hours reading in the hammock.
     Early summer mornings I walked across the street to the neighbors and picked strawberries for ten cents a quart. It was hot sweaty buggy work, but gave me spending money. Later I walked past the “library” to downtown Bonaparte. There was a “five and dime” store full of treasures and soda pop and candy.  
     While I have fond memories of my Grandma’s old Victorian house, she did not. At the time she lived there, she was Grandma Flake. My Grandma Flake died of a heart attack in the downstairs bedroom, leaving her with a mountain of debt. I later learned from an Aunt that he was abusive and mean. He owned farms in several states and her job was to take care of this one, while he was gone for weeks at a time.
     Grandma was left with a mountain of debt, a dozen horses and lots of farm animals. She slowly sold off the animals and rented the cornfields to someone else to farm. In time, she met my Grandpa McCrary down at the feed store. He was an old bachelor, as first wife and baby died at childbirth. They married and moved to his family farm across the river. Grandma sold her farm to a family who assumed her debts, and started a most happy life with Keith. She later wrote in her journals that her few years married to him were the happiest of her life. They were only married six years when he died of a heart attack. Grandma died five years later.
     So when I look at this photograph of her old Victorian farmhouse being built and I remember the long lazy summer days I spent there, knowing I was her favorite grandchild, I am pained to now know that to my grandmother it must have been a prison, with its own kind of hell. What to me was a place of great delight, was a place of darkness and burden.
     Yet my Grandma made the best of it. She gardened and canned, planted luscious flowers, was beloved of her neighbors and friends and welcomed her daughters and grandchildren. My Grandma McCrary left me a legacy of making her small part of the world a better place. I am so much more like her than my own mother. She died when I was a young mother, only twenty-four and many times I have wished for her wise counsel and loving arms.

Marion Josephine Stewart Smith Flake McCrary - My Grandma

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Studio

     My studio is my creative and sacred space. I write, pray, meditate, exercise, and think in my studio. I am surrounded by my stuff - things that have meaning to me. My six foot long wooden desk, given to me by a friend who moved away. Four wide tall bookshelves that hold wisdom and knowledge. My treadle sewing machine, lovingly restored twenty-five years ago by an old man from my church. An old ugly glider rocker and ottoman that are the ultimate comfort as I sit and gaze on the mountains. New miniature citrus trees bask in the sunlight streaming through the floor to ceiling windows. A red multi-colored faux Persian rug on the floor, vegetable seedling growing on shelves by the window and gentle music softly playing beckon  me into my studio.
     I've spent the last year creating my Women's Corner, which is the photograph on this blog. Over the years I've collected numerous itmes that pertain to women, mostly historical things. I've kept them in boxes, on shelves and in drawers. Because my interest as a historian is primarily about the lives of women, I decided to display everything I have that women's hands touched, used and loved.
     I have narrow black button shoes, faded red leather gloves, and lace edged handkerchiefs. Intricate apple seed necklaces, china dolls of all sizes and numerous hats and shawls. A turquoise glass "Lydia Pinkham" bottle, an ornate gold-handled red umbrella, glass bead necklaces, and china teacups and saucers...and so much more. Each item I touch reminds me of women's lives.
     My studio is often messy, but it is always inviting. Piles of papers adorn my desk, boxes overflow with files and stacks of folded fabric adorn the treadle. The ceiling fan hums in the heat of summer and my laptop glows with words and phrases. But inspiration always comes when I sit in my rocker, open the door and catch the scent of the rain drenched garden and see the luscious green alfalfa of the hayfield.