Childhood

brown wooden armchair on brown wooden floor
Photo by Marcelo Jaboo on Pexels.com

 

CHILDHOOD

Chair in the corner of the dining room,

and Daddy sitting in it, and only the orange glow from the ashes,

and gray puffs of smoke,

gave any signal of human presence.

Otherwise it was just the darkness and a chair in the corner,

otherwise it was just daddy in the dark and all alone.

I watched the firelight from the cigarette, as a child,

and wondered why the night was so black,

and why Daddy was so alone, and why voices rang out in the night.

I thought of Mama in the next room sleeping,

and I wondered why I was so small, and why Mama and Daddy never laughed.

And I felt like the night, cold,

and like Daddy,

and like Mama.

so all alone.

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

 

My poetry book “Life at the End of the Rainbow” is currently available at Amazon/Kindle. I would love to hear any feedback about my poetry. Thanks.

-Jenny

 

Merry Christmas!

As all my readers well know by now, I love to walk in gardens and take photos. Just the other day I posted a beautiful flower. On that day, I also took a photo of this beautiful holly tree. It is such a Christmas classic-red holly berries against deep green leaves.

No doubt, Christmas can bring sadness when it dredges up bad memories. Not everyone’s family reflects love and compassion; some are the walking wounded for whom this time of year is a painful reminder of cruelty, criticism and abandonment.

But, there is a family that does reflect love and compassion. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph reminds us that we who are believers in Christ’s promises are members of the eternal family of God.

In this family, we find joy and and assurance that no matter how dark the night, there is a light in that darkness that shines for all eternity for those who believe in Christ.

His light shines upon us and leads us to a peaceful place in our souls.

Christmas is a season that reminds me of that light in the darkness; that star high above me that shines with God’s eternal and infinite love and compassion.

Christ promises us rest in Matthew 11:28 when he says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Rest.

Rest.

Don’t we all need rest? Haven’t we all grown quite weary with the burdens of the past few years? To say we have all been traumatized is indeed an understatement.

In this Christmas season, look towards the light that shines in the darkness. Look towards Christ and be assured that wherever you are or whoever you are that you are loved beyond human measure. Be assured that you belong to the family of God, that you are loved.

Listen to Christ’s promise: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

And believe.

Merry Christmas!

Jenny w. Andrews copyright 2022

A Walk in Winter

On this chilly, gray overcast, windy winter afternoon, I took a walk in a garden near my house. I saw this beautifully red flower with raindrops on its petals. Such beauty! I took a photo and just had to share it with the world.

As with enter this winter season, we tend to fear the ravishes of cold and the uncertainty of a new year. We look behind ourselves and oftentimes regret those things we failed to accomplish in the past twelve months.

The past slaps us in the face as it slowly dawns on us that we wasted precious time with empty pursuits, such as scrolling websites on our phones or binge watching Netflix.

We can never get back wasted time.

Truly time waits for nobody.

Such are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I walked in the garden and noticed flowers in various stages of life and decay. This beautiful flower was still aflame with life and vibrant beauty. But, one day it will, too, fade away.

So, I captured its image with my camera so that I can be reminded of beauty, of the brilliance of life.

Before it fades away.

As we move into 2023, into a new year filled with the unknown, please be reminded that time is fleeting, but life is still a blessing.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Do not waste a second being fearful; have courage; trust in God and know that you are never alone in your despair.

Have courage to accomplish your goals for 2023. Do not waste a second. Life is precious; life is fleeting.

And, life is magnificently beautiful.

Take a walk in a garden on a chilly winter afternoon and be amazed by flowers that are still in bloom.

Copyright Jenny W. Andrews 2022

Rose in a Garden: Peace

On this cool autumn Sunday afternoon I walked in the garden and enjoyed the tranquil beauty of roses. This particular rose caught my attention with its soft pink shade. Such peacefulness can be found in a garden. Just walking around and enjoying beautiful colors, the singing of birds high in the oak branches, and the coolness of autumn breezes can surely lift your mood.

So, as we approach the holiday season, take the time to just walk in a garden and not give in to the stresses that often come with the unrealistic expectations of this upcoming holiday season.

God has truly blessed us with an astonishingly beautiful world; keep that in perspective in these coming weeks.

Simplicity is best; do not overburden yourself with unrealistic expectations (from yourself or from others).

We only have one chance at this beautiful life, so make the best of each moment.

Take a walk in a garden.

Enjoy the roses, the birdsong, the cool breezes that sweep across the earth.

Keep this life in perspective. There is indeed light at the end of each dark tunnel.

God is in control. God loves each and every one of us.

You are not alone.

If in this holiday season you start to feel too stressed and alone, please reach out to someone.

2023 is just around the corner; it is a new year to dream again and to set goals and to grow closer to God.

For now, take a walk in a garden and contemplate God’s love. Stand in the silence and just know that there is a tomorrow and you are loved.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

A Poem: Mirage

Grandma gambled and knew if she lost she would never recoup the cost.

Sage burned in the silver container in the corner; amethyst and orange quartz stones neatly circled the photograph of him and her embracing on the rocky shore of Paracas Bay.

Nobody had bothered to tell them back then on that windy day in 1942 that love was just a mirage.

He nor she would have ever believed it would all eventually crumble like the Incan ruins beneath their foreign feet.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Short Story Sketch: Pyramids Amid Lost Dreams

Billie Mae splurged her last dollar on a trip of a lifetime.

Forty-five years of marriage had ended badly. Jack had been an ass.

Mustafa pointed to the imposing blocks of rock melting like a mirage in the sweltering distance. Well, they weren’t actually melting; it was an optical illusion, an illusion much like her happy life had been. “That, that is the Great Sphinx of Giza,” he announced with pride as if he himself had had a hand in constructing it. With a flourish, he waved his cigarette out the car window, slowed to a stop, and tapped ashes into the stagnant air.

She’d barely said a single word to the young man after she had gotten into the taxi at Cairo International Airport. From her vantage point in the backseat, it occurred to her that what should have been a half-hour ride had turned into over two hours. There was no meter; the old black taxi reminded her of a hearse. She briefly recalled seeing newer white taxis. Perhaps, a newer taxi would have had air conditioning. She rolled down the window and swiped at the sweat coursing down her forehead. She hadn’t even considered how she must have appeared. At sixty-eight years old, she’d learned to completely ignore her feelings. She’d learned not to cry; she’d learned to shove down each and every feeling she felt. Jack and their five children ignored her. She had strived to be the perfect wife and mother.

“Madam, are you okay?” Mustafa lit another cigarette and adjusted his rearview mirror so as to get a clearer view of her. “Your bottom lip is twitching. I think you are very sad.”

Sweat soaked her white linen blouse. She adjusted the mint green scarf she had tied around her shoulders. In the distance, the Great Sphinx of Giza consumed the horizon with its grandeur and mystery. Tears and sweat coursed down her cheeks and splashed into the palms of her trembling hands. “I’d always wanted to see the pyramids of Egypt every since I was a small child. My daddy would stand in front of the congregation and give his sermons and talk about Egypt. Those Bible stories.” Her voice caught in her throat. The words drenched in bitterness spilled forth like a dam breaking.

Mustafa tapped his cigarette butt into the ashtray, and then he turned to look directly at her. “So, you are here now. So, why are you crying, Madam? I think you should be happy.”

At sixty-eight years old, she felt the soreness of her bones. Arthritis had settled into her knees. She adjusted her glasses, and stepped out of the taxi. The hot sand seeped through the thin rubber of her white sandals. Mustafa exited the taxi and stood beside her.

“I gave up a full academic scholarship in archeology. He’d said I didn’t need to go to graduate school after Natalie our first baby was born. Then, after he left me for Corinne he told me I needed to get a job, that since the kids were grown I needed to get a job. He left me just last month. I am sixty-eight years old. What am I going to do? I gave up everything for Jack and our kids. And now.” Her voice trailed off.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Note: Hi Everyone,

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a message and let me know what you think.

Mystery and Magic of Cats

Pictured here is Velvet lounging on the picnic table with the leaves from the mimosa tree swaying above him. This photo was taken nearly twenty-five years ago. I found it tonight while cleaning out my garage.

Velvet had arrived on my doorstep the night of a tropical storm; rain was just beginning to fall when I heard a faint meowing. Initially, I thought it was just the wind. I opened my door and there he was trembling and huddled up; his large green eyes pleading to find refuge from the storm.

I have allergy to cat fur.

So.

So what!

I also had two little dogs. I wasn’t all too sure how they would react to a visitor since they both were already stressed with the howling wind slapping tree branches against the house.

So, I just couldn’t stand the thought of that little cat outside in the storm.

Of course, I bundled him up in my arms in a towel, dried him off, and opened a can of tuna for him. Needless to say, he stayed pretty much by my side for over a decade.

Curiously, no one ever claimed him; so, I claimed him. And, my two little dogs absolutely adored him. They would huddle into a big pile and sleep; they did this during the tropical storm that first night.

Velvet would follow me when I’d take walks around the neighborhood; I think he may have thought he was one of the dogs. He would jump on my son’s music stand and bat at the flute my son had been playing; he seemed to love music.

Mainly, he loved being apart of my family.

Interestingly, a few months after he landed on my doorstep another stray cat whom I named Sheba showed up. Nobody claimed her; so, I did.

My allergies to cats miraculously disappeared! I think it was their love that cured me of my allergies. . .

So, I ended up with two cats that became quick friends with my two little dogs.

Looking at all those all photos that I had stored in my garage is bittersweet. I was suddenly reminded of the rapid passage of time, of loss, and of those magical moments when a simple meow would make me laugh. I was reminded of sunny days in my garden with two cats and two dogs stretched out beneath the crape myrtle trees. . .enjoying the breeze.

Time goes way to fast; I wish I could step back into those hours, but I can’t.

But, I can remember.

I can remember the magical moments of calm and learning to just sit beneath the mimosa tree, like Velvet, and enjoy the sound of silence. And the beauty of peace.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Panacea, Pangaea, Noblesse Oblige

Okay.

I absolutely love learning vocabulary words that are rarely used. A few months ago, I bought Robert W. Bly’s 1,200 Words You Should Know to Sound Smart: Essential Words Every Sophisticated Person Should be Able to Use.

Well, I am not altogether sure if I would define myself as necessarily “sophisticated” per say. I do like to color coordinate my shoe color with my handbag, if that counts.

I do find, as a creative writer, that increasing my vocabulary helps with generating new ideas for stories and poems.

Some really interesting words that Bly mentioned which I would like to share with you are:

Jejune (adjective) an inferior work or poor performance.

Imagine at your job’s next board meeting standing at the head of the conference table and declaring, “Your proposals are all jejune!” (Well, that might just get you some days off since your co-workers will either assume you are mentally exhausted or drunk, or maybe both).

Imbroglio (noun) a sticky situation-a predicament that is difficult to get out of.

The next time your significant other’s family starts to give you grief blurt out “Marrying into your family has certainly created an imbroglio, wouldn’t you agree?” Just step back and monitor their expressions and bask in the knowledge that, yes, you’re not as dumb as they all thought you were!

Raconteur (noun) Someone who enjoys telling stories, does so frequently, and is good at it.

At the next office party, cocktail party, engagement party, (any of those places where you have to stand around and pretend you are interested in listening to others brag and boast about themselves, their children, and their successes) simply liven things up by blurting out “I come from a family of raconteurs” each time anyone inquires about you and your background. That should get them to scratching their heads for a minute or two while you slip away to another room (or to your car).

Yes, learning new vocabulary is a great way to stimulate creativity.

Take the words in my blog’s title and see what stories you can create. Drop me a line and share what you’ve come up with, if you’d like to.

Happy Writing!

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2022

And Now for Some Good News. . .

Okay, this morning I woke up and checked the usual suspects: the mainstream media outlets just to see what had happened overnight. . .And, of course, murder, mayhem, disease, and pestilence screeched from the pages.

So, I decided that since the world is filled with billions of people. . .and in my heart and soul I believe at least ninety percent of us are decent and kind, there has to be something good out there.

Lo and behold! There is a news network that focuses on the positive. It can be found at https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org.

The story that I just read is inspiring. With ingenuity and international cooperation, all is not doomed. There is no crisis that humans with creativity and a positive spirit cannot tackle.

So, read this story and trust that all is right with the world. We are not doomed, as long as we seek solutions rather than dwell on negativity. We all share this world. We are all connected. So, let’s work together to find solutions.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Unpublished: Part Two

Well, I decided to unpublish all my projects tonight. As I stated in my previous blog post, I have been disappointed by the whole self-publishing enterprise.

My advice is that if you plan to self-publish on Amazon/Kindle make sure you do your homework.

Apparently, even after you unpublish, third parties can sell your books and you will not get a royalty because the book is sold used. The rationale is that you got paid the first time the book was sold, so you don’t get paid again.

So, does that mean your creative work is out there being sold and resold and you do not receive any royalties for your creative efforts?

It appears that is the case according to the email I received from Amazon/Kindle regarding unpublishing my books.

They still haven’t explained to me how third parties can sell my books if my books are now unpublished and are not supposed to be printed anymore.

I thought the books were printed when they were ordered, so if I have unpublished then how could they print it and sell it?

Cautionary tale: Think before you self-publish.

I advise against it.

In fact, tonight I completely cancelled my Amazon account and Kindle, as well. Also, I cancelled Goodreads.

I am just sick of the underhanded dealings of big corporations.

My books are my creative property; I deserve to make a profit off my creative property.

I put my foot down here.

I refuse to associate with Amazon/Kindle.

I am walking away from anything that resembles big tech.

I want to support local stores rather than buy on Amazon.

I will find an actual small press or literary agent to publish my creative work.

Self-publishing has been a disappointment and a rip off. . .

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Unpublishing

Well, I guess it’s back to the drawing board.

It’s been over two years since I self-published my novel “Bully Another Day,” my short story collection “Short Stories and Vignettes,” and a second poetry book “Spaces between the Pause.” I’ve only had one sale for “Bully Another Day.” That’s it. Of course, I really don’t know for sure whether this is it. . .I mean, how would I know for sure if someone purchased my books out there in the virtual world?

I unpublished my books, but according to Amazon/Kindle, a third party could still sell my books. Not altogether sure that I am onboard with that. . .their little message said that my books will not be available for sale now

But if they’re not available for sale then how could a third party sell something that is not available for sale?

I give up on trying to navigate this virtual world behind a computer screen. It is isolating and dehumanizing.

I wonder if I should just delete my books. I need to look back and see if there is even an option for that. Probably not. Life behind a computer screen is like that song “Welcome to the Hotel California”. . .You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

So, I wonder if I can submit my manuscripts to a publisher. Probably not, since I’ve self-published.

I have grown quite weary of all this. I am just tired.

Writing has always been something I have enjoyed, but, but, the quest to get published, to get just a little recognition has grown quite exhausting.

Self-publishing has felt like an exercise in futility; it is like hurling oneself down a dark, dank tunnel. Maybe others have had more success than I have. And, I congratulate you if you have been successful.

But, alas, I have failed at self-publishing. With the exception of my poetry book “Life at the End of the Rainbow,” which did sell a few copies, I have failed.

So, I throw in the towel; I send up the white flag; I step away from this unconquerable task.

I did try; I did attack it with optimism and dedication; I did have a plan. . .

So, this brings me to a quote by Mike Tyson “Everybody has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” (Brainyquote).

I’ve definitely gotten punched in the mouth (metaphorically, of course).

I’ve actually gotten hurt in my heart; writing has always been my passion.

I am not sure what to do about this. . .this disappointment. . .this failure. . .

I’d like to say I will get up and brush myself off and try again. . .

So, what is the clinical definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

Uh?

I need to think about that. . .Yeah, I think I’ll just skip self-publishing and search for a publisher or literary agent. . .

Leave a comment, if you’d like. Any suggestions?

Be kind, though. My heart hurts. . .

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022