Leave of Absence

Twenty-Five

There are 26 letters in the English language, and we need every single one. Want proof? Choose a letter and write a blog post without using it. (Feeling really brave? Make it a vowel!)

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It would generally be agreed by the throng of writers inhabiting planet Earth that we are absolutely in need of every letter of the alphabet.

I, for one, would be bereft should any one letter be banned. Such an action would be unconscionable. Even for an engaging exercise such as this, one needs to realize that every letter has its place and deserves to be accorded the respect earned over hundreds of years of general usage.

To arbitrarily ban one little letter for no reason at all is altogether ridiculous and downright hurtful.

What did the letter do to be cast out of its fraternity of fellow word conjurers?

Why, nothing! Nothing at all.

Yet one, for the purposes of this exercise, does indeed find itself on the sidelines. A rest. A break, if one were to look upon it with an eye to the positive.

Yes, let’s look at it that way.

One letter has been granted a leave of absence today.

Can you guess which one?

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti 

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Daily Prompt: Race the Clock

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“Turn back the clock 20 years and be who I am today but with the vitality of my 30-something self? You mean it?”

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

A rare flight of fancy it is not. Who hasn’t wished they could step back in time and relive the lost moments of their lives from a clearer and more enlightened perspective?

“What do I have to do?”  I inquire of the ether.

No answer.

“What do I have to do?!!!!” I yell it at the top of my lungs into an abyss of unknowing.

Still, no answer.

“Why do you taunt me so?” I mope. “You’ve made an offer I’m not likely to refuse and then you leave me suspended in disbelief. I made my commitment yet you have reneged on yours. Why?”

Still there is silence.

I sit quietly … waiting. How much good I could do with my life taking the knowledge I have now back 20 years to a new mid-life beginning. As it is, I feel I am in a race against the clock, trying to accomplish much with all that I’ve learned while living in a body battling the ravages of time.

“You can’t go back …”

“Huh? Who said that?” I must know.

“You can’t go back …”

“Well … that’s beginning to look blatantly obvious,” I growl. “You, whoever you are, have deceived me.”

“No, you have deceived yourself. Take what you know now, use the resources you have and start here. You’re in a race against the clock and the more you lament for the past the more precious time you waste in the present. Your future depends upon it.”

“But … but …” I sulk.

“Make this the offer you can’t refuse … the ability to live with an open heart and an open mind, and a grace that enables you to move with the flow of life and live in a state of acceptance. Be present in your life and live in every moment. You will see a great and positive change, I promise you.”

With a sigh I concede my lot. There is no going back. The new offer is the one that cannot be refused. I’ve lived enough of my life in the past already.

~*~

If I’d known then, what I know now … Who hasn’t had that conversation with themselves? Never mind this writing exercise (which I may have snuck in to 10 minutes) I really do feel that living my life now, with all that I’ve learned and am learning is a race against the clock. And I don’t like racing.

Having come through a health crisis and still walking the road to recovery I value every moment of pure energy I have at my disposal to live the life I love. Still, in my wistful moments I do wander what it would be like to live through my 30s as the more grounded and mindfully-living person I am now.

Still, if I was offered such an opportunity, would I really take it? Would you?

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Writer’s Danger Zone

Daily Prompt: Play Lexicographer

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My dream come true.

A word to call my own.

Playing with the alphabet.

I’m in the danger zone.

A brainstorm of confusion

Puzzling my thought.

A word game I alone can play

Culled from all that I’ve been taught.

Got it!

Lexinaffle: ~ verb ~ the inability to dream up a new word for a daily prompt. Useage: I’ve been trying really hard to think of a new word for this frustrating exercise and find myself completely lexinaffled.

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So silly …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Baa … d

Sheep herd

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Aren’t you going to write something?

I don’t know what to write about.

That’s awfully rich for someone with a head full of words. You keep telling me you see things to write about all the time, and yet you can’t put pen to paper?

I can’t explain it. It’s easier said than done. The words are there, but I can’t just conjure them into something of meaning. They need to find that meaning for themselves.

Nonsense! A pathetic excuse.

It’s not nonsense. For me, at least, words cannot be conjured. They simply need to find their place. But there’s so much going on in the field of my thought right now the words feel lost. Like sheep. They need a shepherd.

Shepherds guide their flock. I thought you just said that words need to find their own place.

They do … but they need some guidance, too. It’s complicated.

Aren’t you the shepherd of your words? Don’t you need to step into that maelstrom of wooly thought and create some order?

Ah … that’s baa … d. But you are, to some degree, correct. Word herding! I’ve never thought of it that way.

Of course you haven’t, or we wouldn’t be having this ridiculous conversation. Now, herd those words into that pen, for goodness sake, and get on with it. You’re beginning to sound more like a lost sheep than the guiding shepherd you claim to be.

Perhaps you are the writer, not I.

Give me that pen.

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After a bit of a drought, a free writing exercise to get the sheep moving. 😉

Nonsense, indeed, but fun all the same.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

The Stranger

 

Night Light

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“There’s a gentleman I’d like you to meet,” announces my dear friend, Sara Bartholomew-McCreedy with a rustle of silk and wink of an eye.

I’m a young, childless widow, thanks to the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, and this outing is a rare treat after a year of mourning. They say “Missing in Action” is as good as dead, and since my William has been missing in action since that dreadful battle, he may as well be dead.

“Crystal Barton-Lane, listen to me!” Now Sara’s most emphatic. “He’s an officer of our age and station recently back from the war. Most pleasing to the eye, in fact. A friend of a friend of a friend. You know how it is. Not my type, but you’d like him. He owns horses and goes to the opera.”

Is she having me on? I roll my eyes. Sara’s at it again, trying to matchmake me out of social purgatory. The war has taken so many men of our age and social rank it’s hard to know where one stands. And those who have come back are often so traumatized I’ve all but given up any idea of finding a man to fill my dear husband’s shoes. Sara knows this, and still she persists.

We alight from the shiny motor carriage owned by Sara’s wealthy uncle who has offered both of us refuge in his sumptuous Bartholomew Hall until we find our feet, and make our way through the thickening London fog to the Savoy entrance. It’s 4 p.m. of a late fall afternoon. Darkness is setting in and we’re meeting this man ~ and one of these friend’s of which Sara has spoken ~ for tea at the Palm Court.

“Really, Sara, I wish you wouldn’t meddle in my affairs,” I turn to her, my annoyance on my sleeve. “I’m not quite at your level of joie de vivre yet. It’s only been a year and I still miss my William.”

Sara sends me a disarming smile.

“Crystal, darling,” she stops me before we enter the fine hotel and looks me straight in the eye, “it’s time to lift that dreary veil of tears and live. Live now! I don’t think William would want you to be moping around for him. You know how he loved life ~ the next adventure. I’m sure he’d want that for you.”

A vision of my handsome husband all decked out in top hat and tails that last night at Covent Garden and enjoying a fine performance of La Bohème makes me shiver. How excited he was about soldiering and leading a troop of his own to battle victory.

“Crystal! Snap out of it!” Sara’s voice brings me back to the present. “There he is …”

Through the amber vapours of a flickering gas light and beneath the lamppost a stranger emerges.

But he’s not a stranger at all … he’s my husband.

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday

This is the word bank prompt:

Fog – Lamp post – Veil – Top hat – Carriage

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

A New Life

fwf

Clearing land, you know, it never ends. My land, and then Henry’s down the road.

Hard work. Real hard.

We came here with our families, see. From the ol’ country. Across the pond in one of them big vessels packed with other hopefuls looking for a new life.

We left everything behind that wouldn’t pack in a steamer trunk or two.

Ol’ Sal, my honey love, not so thrilled to leave behind gran’s antiques passed down the generations. Cupboards, and such. But passage for eight children is dear and sacrifices must be made.

We came here because the Canadian government was giving away land to newcomers to clear and make productive. One-hundred acre parcels in northern Alberta. Things is rough in the ol’ country and we want to give our wee ones a fresh start. So, we took the bait and, after months of planning and saying goodbye to the life we knew, find ourselves ‘ere ~ in this right pickle.

Imagine. Homesteading at my age. In my late 40s with a war wound or two. My hands ‘ave known hard labour, but nothing like this. I was a soldier. The Great War. It was hell, but a different kind. And I was younger then.

Clearing boulders and bush and dead trees by hand in all weathers, with the ‘elp of my wee ones and a couple of old plough horses is gruelling work. Friendly neighbours lend a hand when they ‘ave the extra time, which is rarely. They are farmers, after all. Like me from the old world trying to eek out a living in a new one.

It’s the 1920s. Times are tough all over.

We’ve been at this now for several months. Ol’ Sal cries into ‘er pillow ever’ night wondering why we came ‘ere. Can’t say as I blame ‘er. I wonder sometimes myself. And now we’re heading into winter which, I’m told, is hell frozen over.

So, we knock down all the dead pines and ash and maple, and a few healthy ones too, and break it up to store as fuel. Till the soil, saving some of the smaller rocks to heat in the stove for when we go out in the sleigh. I’m told it gets to 40 below around ‘ere. Neighbours who’ve already been through an Alberta winter are kind enough to ‘elp us prepare.

Ol’ Sal is putting in canned goods; buried in an ‘ole in the ground ’til we get the cellar done. It’s ‘ard times, but we do our best to smile through it. The wee ones, ranging in age from 18 to six, are getting tough with it.

We remember fondly the dear ones we lost and left behind. Five cherubs, all buried in Motherwell. Sad times.

Still, it’s not all bad. Weekly chicken suppers and dancing on a Friday night down at the school house lifts our spirits. Jim O’Malley plays the fiddle, right enough, and Will Grogan tickles those upright ivories with his giant farm labouring hands like it’s nothing. When we’re not dancing a jig we’re singing the ol’ songs around the piano. Kids run around making mischief, as they should. Hard labour is soul destroying when not balanced with a little high jinx.

My music talent lies with the bagpipes, but not at the suppers. Church on Sunday and funerals, mostly. Amazing Grace the most popular choice. I’m ‘appy to do it. Reminds me of my homeland. Brings a tear to these jaded eyes.

But, I must get on. The winter waits for no one and I and ol’ George Ivey from the farm across the way ‘ave wood to pile by the makeshift barn. We’ll fix that up next spring.

Tough times, sure enough, but at least there’s hope in a new life.

~*~

My response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday image prompt.

Thanks for visiting.

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Free Write Friday: Fall Word Bank … The Season of Senses

It’s Free Write Friday and this week Kellie Elmore has issued a word bank challenge.

Deposited in the bank this week are:

foliage – amber – wicker – aroma – sweater – cocoa

And here’s my free write ramble, lightly edited …

The Season of Senses

Mirabel stepped off the front porch step to the pebbled path way and stopped. She took a deep breath and held it for a moment, and then released. The air was bright with the sharp scent of rain-drenched foliage. It was a heady fragrance, filling her with a sense of gratitude for another summer past and the fullness of life represented by autumn.

Summer’s last gasp, she liked to call it, shooting flames of colour through the woods. “Remember me! Remember me!” the dying season seemed to say. A canopy of amber, crimson, rust foretelling the arrival of a season of frigid dormancy.

Amber Canopy

Winter wasn’t Mirabel’s thing. She preferred long rides on her horse through the withering woods, with the crunch of freshly, fallen leaves beneath Cally’s hooves; the sparkle of sunlight scoring through baring branches; and the soft, warm fragrance of the dying summer flooding her senses.

Autumn was the season of senses.

She stretched her arms out to the side like a flying bird and tilted her head up to the sky, closing her eyes as if to take in the changing season even more deeply. To feel its dampness on her skin; hear the call of migrating geese in her ears; smell the sweet decay of summer’s rotting blooms. She could almost taste it so heightened were the flavours of fall by remnants of rain.

Rain.

A drop here. A drop there. On her forehead; her eye lids; her cheeks; the back of her outstretched hands. She opened her eyes. It was true. The spit-fall of rain drops had started again.

She turned and climbed the stairs to the covered porch and settled into her wicker rocking chair. Pulling her favourite Arran sweater tighter about her to ward off the damp chill, she observed the rainy scene for some time before realizing that what she really wanted, right now, was for someone to bring her a lovely hot mug of cocoa.

“Ben, honey …!”

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

free-write-friday-kellie-elmore

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©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

#FWF Reprise: Childhood Gift … The Arab Tent by Henry Landseer

Free writing is a great exercise and a little more challenging when the memory is involved.

free-write-friday-kellie-elmoreAs mentioned in my last Free Write Friday post on the Childhood Gift, my childhood is very much a blur. During last week’s free writing exercise I couldn’t think of anything to share besides the bear story. Which is fine ~ it’s a nice story. Somehow, though, it left me feeling empty.

The fact is, my mother had given something of great meaning to me when I was a child (besides a roof over our heads, food at the table and a youth steeped in culture), but what it was I just could not recall through the fog of memory while trying to free write on the topic.

That was until a memory jogging discussion with my therapist on Tuesday reminded me of a special gift I still have and that means the world to me.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t think of it as it’s within eyeshot every day.

I don’t recall the exact age I received this thoughtful gift. Maybe nine years old. And I don’t even remember how it was given to me. Perhaps for my birthday.

When my mother toured with the opera company she would frequent antique shops in the various British cities she visited. She would often return home, after a few days away, with easily transportable items she hadn’t been able to resist, like old picture frames and glassware.

I didn’t pay this much mind until one day she presented me with a gold-leaf antique frame bearing a print of “The Arab Tent” by Edwin (Henry) Landseer (1802-1873). The beautiful print she purchased at the gift shop of the The Wallace Collection in London, where the original is on display.

The Arab Tent

This beautiful print of a grey Arabian mare and her bay colt sheltered in an Arab tent took pride of place on my bedroom wall throughout my formative years. Now, despite more life-altering physical moves than I care to remember during which I lost or misplaced many possessions, it somehow graces a wall in our family room.

I guess this print and I were  meant to be together for a lifetime. 🙂

The Arab Tent has become even more meaningful in recent years …

Before Bear arrived in my life I was part-boarding a beautiful grey thoroughbred mare called Murphy. For two years she felt like she was my horse and her owner was happy for me to treat her as such.

MurphyIn the spring of the second year, Murphy became quite ill. We didn’t know what was wrong with her and for several months she was on-again/off-again with work. By autumn she was dropping weight rapidly and a trip to the equine hospital was in order.

She arrived on a Thursday. Within a day and after several tests she was diagnosed with cancer of the peritoneum (lining of the heart). She was dropping weight by the minute. By Saturday she was dead; euthanized. There was no staying the tide of that terrible disease.

Her loss was devastating to me.

I took two weeks off from riding and then, determined to get back in the saddle, started riding school horses again.

Then, about a month later, my future husband suggested it was time to turn my life-long dream of having a horse into reality.

Three months later Bear entered our lives.

Going back to The Arab Tent for a moment, what amazes me is how prophetic this beautiful piece of art seems ~ like a mysterious foreshadowing of what was going to be.

My experience with the grey mare (Murphy) gave birth to the brown colt (Bear).

A kissI get goosebumps just thinking of it.

Now every time I gaze upon The Arab Tent in my family room, I am reminded  of these two beautiful horses that have graced and brought important meaning to my life, and how their coming was, seemingly, pre-destined.

All that remains is for me to view the original of The Arab Tent at The Wallace Collection. I hope that day comes soon.

God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. I’ve experienced enough of life so far to believe this with my whole heart.

You just never know the profound significance of a simple gift.

I’m so glad I remembered this piece of my life and my mother’s role in it.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013