After the Storm

Cotoneaster fruit after yesterday’s winter storm, the bush to the east of the garden shed. We got quite a lot of snow, here. March typically has more snowfall than February. Because it’s warmer, I think.

old memories
surface when the silent snow falls
voices…music…wind

Copyright © 2018-03-05
Lizl Bennefeld
Fargo, N.D. USA

Fallen leaves

 

The day was cold, dry and windy, although warmer and calmer than the day before. Most of the snow has melted away, and precipitation does not figure into the weather forecast before Wednesday.

I have bought a paper journal, after all these years. Now, to overcome the hesitation to fill the pages with less than brilliance, ending up with a book of pristine pages and my thoughts and poetry scattered in text files throughout six computers and blog posts on the Internet. Actually, I am finding that my skin sensitivities are lessening, and I think the archival-quality paper may not irritate my hands. I’ve also bought colored pens.

I enjoy writing. It’s okay to “ruin” good paper when playing with words and sketches. (And, no, I have no talent for drawing. Whatsoever!)

Happy Domesticity

Enjoyed cooking, this morning, and then taking a nap with the Scampers.

This photo, however, was taken a couple of nights ago, when the Scampers fell asleep next to Al. That brown board to the right is the edge of his computer lapdesk.

cocker spaniels napping on couch
Puppies

Still low key around here, adjusting to my parents’ deaths and the activity and people exposure involved with funerals and two “meetings of the clan” within such a short period of time. Avoiding activity in general except as amusement. I’ve started doing some exercising again, and I haven’t quite gotten back on my diet, but it’s pulling together. I’ll know that’s working when I actually start writing down the foods with their calorie and carbohydrate counts.

In the meanwhile I am continuing to think about what I want to do with the resurrection of two of my discontinued domains. I had thought to construct a writing/photo collection to complement the blogs where I put up anything and everything. I’m still too much in slow motion to make that practical. It will go faster when I dig out my old website backups and use some of the pages as templates.

What I Enjoy | Everyday Inspiration Day 2

Write a List

  • I love the sound of rain spattering against my window in the middle of the night as the winds come up and then die away again as the storm moves on.
  • I loved the night when gale-force winds bent our old, tall poplar tree nearly to the ground as my husband and I (and the dogs) sat in the garden shed, plywood board across the open door acting as a splash board to protect us from the muddy rainwater raining on us from below. I loved the poplar, branches bending, flashing in and out of view as the lightning strikes revealed them to us.
  • I loved coming out from work at midnight to find a massive rainstorm…and standing beneath the column of water pouring through the pipes from the high rooftops of the commercial buildings all around me. The alley and streets nearly empty and myself screened by falling water.
  • I love swimming in lake, river or creek in the nighttime, on a whim, all alone. The sounds of the loons calling across the lake, the frogs singing on river banks or in the nearby slough.
  • I love the sound of water pouring over the small dam across the river, where, when the river’s running shallow, one can sit in a crevice hidden by the falling water and watch the lights from up above and across the fields. It seems as though one could breathe water, the mist from the splashing fall rising up again.
  • I love looking out of the airplane, visioning not cold and fragile, but soft, supportive clouds, and wishing to open the door and walk outside, the cumulus become a gigantic, billowing trampoline just for me.
  • I love standing along the road as evening turns to night, the sky high overcast, watching tall storm cells march across the fields and hilltops many miles away. The cloud-to-cloud lightning illuminates the cell in slices, and the clouds become grey backdrops for the dance of lightning bolts, the music too far away to be heard.
  • I love the mysteries and beauty of life.

Lizl Bennefeld
Copyright © 2016-05-19.

Day Two in Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration, Blogging University.

I write because…because I write | Everyday Inspiration Day 1

Why I Write

I am a life-long writer/journaler. I write to objectivize the world outside of me; that is, the reality that is independent of my mind, which I intuit through the senses. I write to know and understand what I truly see and to determine what I feel about that reality, its physical shape, its human and other inhabitants, and the interactions among the not-living world, the combination of forces and elements, and the cause and effect of both that and the living things that depend upon God and the seemingly not-aware stage within which they live out countless generations in peace, avoidance, violence, altruism and self-destruction as species.

I write. I objectivize. I freak out a lot. And then I turn inwards and write some more. “I am not responsible in total or part for the path the future takes,” I write; “I am responsible for recognizing truth and doing what is right.”

Self-aware individuals have a great capacity for rationalization. They seek personal survival, personal gain. Few recognize the necessity for an all-encompassing altruism in order that somethings—someones—should survive to witness the end of all things. The Universe should not die alone.

Lizl Bennefeld
Copyright © 2016-05-17.

Day One in Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration, Blogging University.

End of January

Our weather, this week, was nicely warm. Today, however, was more chilly and crust formed over the remaining snow (which still is more than ankle deep). I made a gesture toward firming a path from the back door to the gazebo. If the week is sunny, I will take the laptop to the gazebo for a while each sunny afternoon to be able to spend my writing time out of doors.

I am quite tired of being ill, and I am sure that being out of doors will help me to regain my equilibrium and blow away some of the clouds in my brain.

In fun news, a friend thearanartisan.com and I enjoyed tossing haiku back and forth on her FB page, Friday night. I have consolidated our haiku in order here with a link to her WordPress site. And also to RonovanWrites, whose haiku challenge #81 got us started.

Beginning the third week, this week, of the Prose Poetry workshop under the guidance of Pam Casto. Fascinating stuff. I find that there are genre as well as literary pieces within prose poetry and that my interest in them divides along genre lines as well as (my perceived) quality of the writing.

I realize that some of the books I most enjoy are prose poems, almost front end to back. For example, William Least Heat-Moon’s PrairyErth: A Deep Map, a favorite of mine. I think also of the introductory chapter of Ivanhoe, which I admit to not having reread since shortly after college. (I first read it in late grade school or junior high, either before or just after Quentin Durward). Helen Saunders, my English instructor for the class on that particular period of English literature, was aghast at my statement that I did truly enjoy the writing style.

It seems fortunate, here in my 70th year, that I read nearly all of the “great literature” that  was assigned in college before I turned 18. The older I get, the less time I am likely to allot to any one piece of literature, and the shorter the reading segments for nonfiction (e.g., Francis Fukuyama’s “Political Order” books). Forty-five minutes or an hour here and there to read a cozy mystery or historical romance just for fun is not a great amount of time lost. I’ve become a lot more choosy about speculative fiction, quite often choosing to reread favorite series rather than spend time with new books that are not quite at the highest level of gratification. Often I find myself writing, instead. Or thinking…while petting the puppy dog in my lap.

 

Anniversary, Love (A Poem)

Today we are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary. As per my previous post: Throughout the past 20+ years, I have occasionally written stories and poems that include thoughts about my husband, marriage, relationships, love, &c. We were in our mid-forties when we (once more…after a lapse of nearly twenty years) began dating and married. I wrote this poem in 2007, shortly after our fifteenth wedding anniversary, imagining what I might feel if Al were dead, recasting the emotions in a “Halloween” poem for publication on the SFPA Halloween page. I did something similar for a science-fiction poem (Outward Voyage, bottom of page) that was published in Star*Line in 2011.

Enjoy!

“At Allantide”, by Liz Bennefeld

At Allantide the young girls sleep,
an apple beneath each pillow,
dreaming of their love to be.

At Allantide I sit awake, apple in hand,
waiting for the dear, sweet Allan of my dreams
to come again and dance underneath the moon,
orange above, amid dry barley propped up in sheaves.

Bones rattling, he takes my hand.
We spin across the threshing floor in tight embrace.
He promises, this Allantide . . . or maybe next,

Only a ghostly apple will sit upon a pillow
not dented when I can no longer stay awake.
Face matching his, I’ll dance a final song with him,
And then we both can sleep.

– Elizabeth Bennefeld, © 5 Oct. 2007 [Written for the Science Fiction
Poetry Association’s 2007 Online Halloween Poetry Reading Web page (MP3 available at SFPA)]

Source: At Allantide (SFPA – 2007), QuiltedPoetry.Wordpress.com

Falling in Love Slowly

Throughout the past 20+ years, I have occasionally written stories and poems that include thoughts about my husband, marriage, relationships, love, &c. We were in our mid-forties when we (once more…after a lapse of nearly twenty years) began dating and married. The following short story was written about four years after we married.

“Falling In Love Slowly”
by Lizl Bennefeld

When life became unbearable and those with “witch” talents were branded unacceptable by the local clerics, Tharal, the one who founded our family, crossed the western border into a more hospitable country, leading a string of horses fit for the army’s elite, seeking a new life. How he acquired those horses, we were never told.

Tharal traveled as far as the foothills on the northern border of his adopted country, where he entered into a partnership with Dalen, a local farmer, to breed a new strain of horses for speed and endurance that would far surpass the best stock ever seen in those parts. While they did not achieve their goal, the resulting breed was good and much sought after. More successful were the offspring of the union between Tharal and Dalen’s daughter, Eilis. Among their descendants was my father, Karlin. To him and my mother Maia, I owe the love and security of my early life. My name is Althaia.

Thanks to foreign blood, I’m tall and thin even in my sixth decade, and although my hair has turned from black to grey, my eyes are still sharp and my fingers are nimble. Growing up on a farm near the village of Ravendale, helping in the kitchen garden and fields, tending the horses and cattle, and, my own peculiar domain since the age of seven years, the herb gardens, provided me with a wide range of interests and skills. I was named Althaia after one of Dalen’s sisters, in the hope, no doubt, that I would also become a healer. I don’t know what they would have done if I’d shown no promise in the calling. Changed my name?

One doesn’t expect to fall in love for the first time at the age of forty-four. Life has settled down, by then, into a comfortable routine, with only the expected daily trials and challenges to cope with. The life of a healer and herbalist, teaching at a university, is taxing enough to consume at least thirty-six hours out of every twenty-four hour day. Love? Wedded life? No, thank you! No time available! Althaia, daughter of Karlin and Maia, is no fool. When there is no room on the schedule for one more activity, it cannot even be considered.

Even so, common sense and well established routines not withstanding, Alain and I were wed, and as we approach our fifteenth anniversary, it seems as though we’ve been together forever. It would appear that there’s always time for love, no matter what else must be neglected or postponed. And, the daily trials aren’t as difficult to cope with, when there is someone at home with whom to share them when the day is done.

During my youth, Alain’s path crossed mine a number of times. As far south as our farm was of Ravendale, his family’s farm was to the north. Alain loved to build things–storage sheds, stables, mills, bridges, whatever was needed. He thought out his projects beforehand, and planned and sketched until his drawings matched his own visions of what should be.

He and I knew of each other since early childhood, but it wasn’t until our early twenties that we actually spoke more than a “good day” to each other. The summer before my twenty-second birthday, having finished a good portion of my training as a healer, I was sent with one of my teachers to a border area near the coast where there had been some trouble with pirates coming ashore to loot and burn smaller, undefended villages. A coward by nature, I had not looked forward to this assignment with any measure of anticipation. I could deliver a child or help a new foal into the world, set a broken arm or leg, or concoct a brew to bring down fevers, but the thought of digging an arrow out of a leg or stanching the flow of blood from a sword wound distressed me. When we reached our destination, a crew was busy erecting a new bridge across the stream that flowed past the village. And there was Alain, sketches in hand, calling out directions to the workers.

I suppose I should say that I was immediately attracted to him, but I wasn’t. Alain is an ordinary sort of fellow. We’re of a height, but he tends to stocky, where I’m thin, and his hair is a washed-out brown, while mine was black. Today, my hair is stark silver, but his is still a light brown. His round face and pale blue eyes are tense, always concentrated on whatever task is at hand.

Yes, that fascinated me! The intensity of his concentration! He and I talked after the evening meal about my training and his bridge-building. In later years, other conversations were always lacking by comparison. I had never before been listened to by anyone like Alain listened to me. In turn, in explaining the processes of planning and building, Alain drew me into his own excitement at the process of creation. I was totally absorbed. But, the next morning we were summoned to a neighboring village to treat a child with a high fever (why do children eat everything they’re specifically told not to eat?), and Alain and his crew were gone by the time we returned.

We next met ten years later, when Alain was hired to remodel the stables for the new university in Beaveis, the capitol. He hadn’t changed–still intense and meticulous. While he was there, news arrived that his parents had died in a fire that destroyed the family’s house. We spent a whole night sitting beneath a tree near the stables, talking about our families and what they’d meant to us. He left the next morning for Ravendale. I later heard that Alain’s younger brothers took over management of the farm.

I didn’t see Alain again for over twelve years. Perhaps remembering our last meeting, he volunteered to bring me the news of my father’s death. I wish that I’d been there. I’d been out with a border patrol, two years before, when my mother died. Over the years, my visits home had been less and less frequent. It’s funny. We imagine that our parents will be there for us forever, and suddenly they’re gone, and we’re the oldest generation. For the next few year, Alain’s work kept him in the vicinity of Beaveis, where I had begun teaching courses in herbal medicine at the university, and we spent more and more time together. He was the only man outside of my profession who really heard me when I spoke, listened behind my words and answered my heart as well as my head. Perhaps it was living together through the loss of our parents, crying on one another’s shoulder and knowing the grief was both understood and shared, that finally cemented the bond that had begun to form so many years ago.

Alain is a good man. I love him dearly, and I find that our love continues to grow and deepen with the passing months and years. We have made a new, a fuller life with each other, here. Someone to share the joys, the secret smiles, the burden of the losses and the exhilaration of each day’s achievements. I could regret the lost years, the years spent alone before we discovered our love for each other, but that space apart shaped who Alain is today, and I love him as he is.

Copyright © 1996, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

 

“No Favors” – Prose Poem (Day 7)

“No Favors”
by Elizabeth Bennefeld

We did him no favors, keeping him alive beyond his time. All alone, now, safe from any germ or poison or dirt or grass or fresh, cold air and sun of an autumn morning, rays of light that caress, not treetops, now, but barren ground. It would be a kindness if keepers let him sleep one last time and let him never wake again. Or join him in that cage of glass that keeps him far away and yet so near to gentle touches, fingers running through his fur. Whisper sweet words of not-aloneness in his ear. The last animal on Earth that is not man lies dying. Do not let him die alone.