Monday, March 24, 2014

Snail Mail

Last fall, this little snail got tired of waiting for mail back in my garden so she made her slow journey across the street and over to our shiny mailbox. I like to think that she is my messenger.

I had never seen a snail on a mailbox.We get a lot of snails in our neighbourhood after it rains between late spring and early fall. They decorate sidewalks, gardens, and front doors. And they serve as good reminders for me. Go slow. Be patient. 

A snail on a writer’s mailbox seems to say something very important.  I tried to decode a possible snail message here by working through a few ideas.

1. Even the most patient among us might secretly yearn for the reply to come sooner.

2. Sometimes a watched pot does boil. And if you’re there waiting and watching for it to happen, you’ll be the first to see it.

3. It’s okay for a snail to be obvious. A snail attached to a mailbox is cute—a writer attached to a mailbox is not.

Message: Hide impatience. Watch for mail carrier from afar.

This lesson can be applied to email. It seems I am always waiting for an important message to come in. Though I may look very much like the snail, stuck to my inbox—I shall feign patience, always. 

Here is the lesson again presented as a syllogism:

A snail stuck to a mailbox is cute.

I am not a snail.

Therefore, I might not look that cute stuck to a mailbox.

So, back to work and practicing patience as best I can.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

loss, words, and loss of words

With the exception of delivering Mimi’s New Year wishes, I have been away from my blog for the last few months. I’ve been avoiding it, really. How do I just write something book-related and not even mention the loss of my father? But I didn’t want to dive into that here. Then again, not too long ago I wrote a tribute to my dad on his birthday, so how can I not mention it?

I’ve watched other writers and bloggers share losses and I’ve appreciated the words and taken comfort in them. I wish I were able to do the same. But here I am, four months to the day afterward, and I’m still at a loss for words.

At the end, in November, my dad and I put together some words. It was four days before he died. I asked questions and his answers became the words of a poem. My own questions stemmed from one unanswered question he wanted to address but hadn’t found just the right words for yet. I knew, from our many discussions concerning the memoir I was helping him write, that he wanted to answer this question and that it had been on his mind for years. It was the only remaining area that we had not covered for the memoir, this question.

The poem that resulted pleased him so much. He had found just the right words, finally.

We edited on his bed the next day. He was 90 but somehow just a young boy in his white t-shirt. Never did he wear a t-shirt. He was a man who always wore a dress shirt or one with a collar. He was a young boy—that came through somehow in the way the soft, white fabric rested against his chest. He was fiercely curious and hopeful, still, the way a boy would be. And he was a wise, old man. It all seemed so impossible to me—he was at the end of his life and still so young.  I think he knew, but he had things, many things, to work on, he said. And things to dig up for me in his office. Always things to work on even when getting to his office, right beside his bedroom, was too far a journey to walk and something only possible in his mind.

I have a small box of his things here in my writing space. They are mostly objects he kept in his office. I plan to put some of them up above my desk and over by the bookshelf. I imagine that if there is a heaven, he is up there working away in his office and workshop—puttering, envisioning, inventing, categorizing. I still see his eyes looking up at me from his desk and above his glasses. And now the keys that hung in his office will hang here in my office. I’m hoping they will remind me to be courageous and to find just the right words.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a year

filled with

comfortable working conditions,

frequent indulgences,

enlightened perspectives,

healthy stretches,

inspiring dreams.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Poetry Friday - Heron

Happy Poetry Month!

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that when we witness an amazing and spontaneous occurrence in nature, there is some kind of meaning or message in it for us. The poem I am sharing today describes one of those moments. It happened a few years ago on a foggy summer morning. I was sitting in the sunroom on my purple yoga mat, staring out at our backyard and doing a little stretch before work. Then I lay flat on my back for just a few moments, closed my eyes and took in some deep breaths before sitting up again. Within the seconds that my eyes were closed, something had happened outside. Right there, standing on the nearby rocks at the edge of our tiny pond, was something staring in at me – a heron. I didn’t move. She didn’t move. And she didn’t stay for long. Two minutes—maybe? Later that day, I went out back to skim that little pond. Right there, in the tangle of lily pads, was one water lily in full bloom – the only one that ever bloomed during the short time that we lived in that house. The heron visitor seemed to have just sprung to life out of the petals and fog. I’d never had a heron visit my backyard before that day, and I haven’t had one visit since.


sprung from
pink water lily


an apparition
in August
morning mist

a messenger
a still-life
a dream—

‘be patient’
she might say

but in a
she is gone

     —by Sheri Doyle, all rights reserved

The one and only water lily that bloomed in our pond that summer.

Robyn Hood Black is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup here. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Poetry Friday: Miracles

Welcome! The Poetry Friday roundup is here.

My dad turned 90 this week. We celebrated his birthday last Saturday night with a potluck buffet, cake, music, and good conversation. He received a set of famous moustaches from my sixteen-year-old, and the guys had fun posing as Charlie Chaplin, Hulk Hogan, Salvador Dali, Magnum, P.I., and Mario. My dad wore the Albert Einstein moustache, which seemed to suit him perfectly.

When asked about his secret to living a long and full life, my dad had a simple answer – he credits his longevity to “being happy.” Well, he also offered a few practical tips: share your life with a good partner, or one good friend, look after your body, leave your worries behind when you go to sleep. But it’s my dad’s happy glow that seems to keep him young in spirit.

My dad has always been an optimist, although he has lived through his share of struggles. He was a child of the Depression, served in War World II, and nurtured a business through many ups and downs. He has seen friends and loved ones come and go, and has managed his own health challenges. Over the years, he has taught me through example to find happiness in simple things.  

Now, as I assist him in writing his memoir, I am reminded again and again of this strength in perspective. 

The poem “Miracles” by Walt Whitman comes to mind when I think of my dad.


Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of
   the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
   with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
   quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with
   the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—
   the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

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