Tag Archives: relationships

WITH GRACE AND GRATITUDE

Won't You Be My Honey

The first time I spotted the alligator in the murky waters of a man-made lake framing luxurious condos on one side and a city park on the other, I worried aloud for the safety of the mallards, Muscovy, and white, waddling ducks, the snapping turtles, giant goldfish, flock of pristine egrets, and wading blue heron, making their homes in the marshes there.

“And, the kids who play in this park,” my sweetheart added.

I didn’t respond. Not that I would ever want a person of any age to be harmed by an alligator, but there was no imminent danger in that. Only the nature-preying-nature lurked.

The lake is more for show and tell by realtors looking to justify pricey units with a view. There’s no swimming allowed, and since it’s illegal to feed wildlife in Florida outside of a reserve, observing nature in this park is mostly done from a deck built 15 feet above, and stretching 20 feet out over the water, where picnic tables are placed for brown baggers wondering what so many thieving sea gulls are doing there, some sixty miles inland.

At first, all I saw were the mammoth marble shaped alligator eyes, trolling the lake’s surface, leaving innocent ripples of water in his wake.

“Or,” she said when I pointed out the marauding eyeballs, “it’s a submarine.”

“No, hon, I’m pretty certain it’s an alligator.”

“But, I’m thinking…”

“It’s a gator, okay?”

“I’m just saying what it could be,” she persists, as the tire-like tracks on it’s back emerges. “Or, maybe one in camouflage to look like an alligator, so no one would suspect.”

Really, who am I to say otherwise? I thought.

We only visit this particular park once a year, in September or October, depending on what date the High Holy Days fall.

I won’t expound on the significance of these 10 days for those of you who aren’t Jewish, but I will share the custom of casting bread upon the water (tashlikh) as a symbol of one’s transgressions being disposed of. Unlike other religions, Jews don’t believe in original sin. Instead, we’re born pure, acquiring our indiscretions with age, intent, or ignorance along the way.

But, if we’re sincere in saying “I’m sorry” to those we’ve wronged, and have done good without expectation in return, and made an earnest effort to mend fences, the sin slate gets wiped clean on Yom Kippur, giving each of us another chance to get life right, and do it better.

The disclaimer appears in the setting of the sun, symbolizing the closing of the Book of Life, when even skeptics (secretly) want their names, and those of their loved ones inscribed therein — although no one learns who makes the cut until the High Holy Days roll around again the following year. (Because only those remaining in the here and now know if they were inscribed back in the then and there.)

For the record, I’m very disorganized about organized religion, to the point of anti-it.

But I do like everything about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the culmination of 10 days of introspection, taking stock of one’s life, offering amends, being grateful for whatever cards have been dealt, making promises and looking forward while witnessing the sun sink behind the trees, or beneath the ocean, or into the hills.

Of course, I’m pulling for more than family and friends. I want my pets to be included in that Book of Life, too, and mercy shown for all the animals on earth. I want children to be protected, and hurts healed. I want every woman to fall in love with the person who has fallen in love with her. My list is long. I ask a lot. It takes me the full 10 days to catalog all the hope in my heart.

“Watch out,” we were warned by a couple dawdling nearby. “The flora and fauna police are on duty.”

I glance over at the retiree in khaki shirt and shorts, feeling powerful on his unpaid patrol.

“I’m prepared,” I assured them. “I filled my pocket with stale bread, pre-pulverized in my Cuisinart to melt any evidence upon impact. Would you like a some?”

They showed me their cut up crusts of kosher rye. “No thanks. We’re good.”

As the sun began its steady decline, I confidently hurled a handful of crumbs to flutter like tiny confetti into the water below — forgetting that the brass ring  containing the keys to the car, our home, my sister’s home, the metal license tags of our dogs, and a silver kitty charm carried for good luck was also in that pocket.

It went with.

“I’ll be,” she said, looking down at the unintended snack. “It is an alligator!”

~

To paraphrase a verse in a song from the original, Broadway cast album of The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Your prayer was answered, the answer was ‘no’ — She heard you all right.

Most of you who follow me here, or are a friend to me on Facebook know that I lost my kid sister in May of 2015, 77 days after she was first diagnosed with everywhere-cancer.

What I haven’t shared as much is, in that brief period (and since) I’ve also lost both of my dogs, Buzzbee and Sparky, and a Russian Blue, tamed-to-my-touch, feral cat, Sneaky, twin brother to Pete.

When the last loss happened, I recalled the words attributed to Virginia Woolf upon being asked by her niece why the bird she’d found had to die. Woolf answered, “To make us appreciate life more.”

I’m not sure I concur. I don’t think I could appreciate life any more than I do.  My gratitude is fierce and deep and never falters — even when the answer is, indeed, ‘no’.

Because I see, and hear, and recognize the loss most others endure, daily, is so much greater than my own; the worldwide despair and hunger of millions in the dark of every night, the destruction of homes by flood and fire, the assault on nature by ignorance and greed, the ongoing slaughter of innocent and innocence, the intentional harm inflicted on the undeserving.

It doesn’t lessen the depth of loss I feel, but it does lessen the length of time I spend, struggling.

The High Holy Days come earlier this year and I’m on tenterhooks about it, to the point of being mindful of the fact that the ritual of tashlikh is to happen on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, not on Yom Kippur as I’ve always chosen to observe it.

We’ll be returning to the man-made lake, regardless — this time with an entire loaf of challah for the alligator.

We hope the reptile was written into the Book of Life.

We hope we all were.

#     #     #

This essay was first published entitled See Ya Later Alligator in 2015 and continues to be revisited each year at this time in memory of those who have passed, and with hopes we all continue to be written into The Book of Life. ~ 

Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.  Copyright, © 2015-2018

#   #   #

PLEASE  SHARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THIS ESSAY by scrolling down and selecting REPLY.
I’m all eyes and heart.

#    #    #

 

 

 

AND THE REST IS MYSTERY

Souvenir of True Friendship

I’d nicknamed her AK-57 for the year she was born, a moniker that wasn’t lost on Amanda Kyle Williams who fostered an irreverent, self-deprecating sense of humor about herself, the world at large and, oh yeah, serial killers.

We were wired (as I believe everyone is) through happenstance.

In 2012, I was asked by a mutual friend to add my name to a list of those vying for a chance to win a free copy of her recently released hit novel, The Stranger You Seek, even though I’m an irremediable romantic who avoids most media pertaining to violence. In fact, I’d never read a mystery — not even In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, whose other written works are all favorites of mine.

So, I was a tad taken aback when Amanda friended me on Facebook to say I’d won a copy of her novel and asked me to provide shipping information to Bantam Books.

I immediately confessed to my disinterest in reading mysteries — but ended up agreeing to making her the one exception to my rule after learning we had more than wordsmithing in common. Big things, like our love for animals, rescuing dogs, and the feeding of feral cats. Little things, like the linoleum of her entryway being the identical pattern to that on the kitchen floor of the first apartment I’d ever leased. And other things, like how she’d signed with the same literary agency that rejected my query, we both had a Pekingese named Bella, we’d both been private detectives, and we each had a cat that threatened us within an inch of our toes and nose on a daily basis.

She’d requested my brutally honest opinion of her book, so I gave it: No, her account of Atlanta didn’t make me want to visit . Yes, her description of the Carolina coast tempted me to move there. I’d warned her that I prided myself in using my chess expertise to predict plots ahead of endings. She humbled me by proving I hadn’t a clue as to who the killer in Stranger was until being astounded during the final pages.

But our lives were seldom similar otherwise. She had difficulty reading because of dyslexia; I am a voracious reader without afflictions. She lost a parent at a young age following her mother’s slow decline. My mom passed instantly as I turned sixty. The love of her life succumbed to a malignancy after their twenty years together. My love affair still flourishes at nearly fifty.

Yet we both understood how it felt to lose a cherished sibling after providing steadfast care during their inevitable demise, just as we both knew my combat against heart failure is pure child’s play compared to her valiant fight against cancer  — truly, life’s most insidious serial killer.

Amanda Kyle Williams lost her battle on Friday morning, August 31st, two weeks after turning 61.

And, although we never actually met face-to-face, eye-to-eye, shoulder-to-shoulder, or toe-to-toe, we existed as tongue-in-cheek and heart-to-heart kindred spirits for six remarkable years.

Losing her saddens me.

Deeply.
.

# # #

Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist, author, and animal rescue activist.
And The Rest Is Mystery © 9.2.18
.
I value your opinion and appreciate your sharing of this essay with others. Please select LEAVE A REPLY by clicking below the headline to express your thoughts on this post. I’m all eyes and heart.
.

Crying Girl and her Doll

.

 

 

 

Happy-Dance Occurrences

Swift's Pride Soap

.

I NEVER LEAVE MY FINGERPRINTS on any surface other than pants and shirts, not necessarily my own. Call it obsessive compulsive disorder (because that’s what it is), expediency is key to me cleaning my hands. If something foreign gets on one, anyone standing near me can expect a spontaneous pat on the back.
~
A compulsion to keep my hands clean has been with me since kindergarten when I refused to finger-paint without a brush. Chaos erupted when all the kids wanted one. It christened ‘fastidious’ as my Star of David to bear (personally and professionally) ever since.
~
As an art and antiques columnist for a string of east coast trade papers during the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was commissioned to do an article on 19th century Commonplace Books. These oversize tomes were maintained by women in lieu of journals, decorated with pressed flowers, calling cards, idioms, autographs, photographs, news clippings, and exquisite chromolithographed die-cuts of animals, birds, bouquets, angels, hands, hearts and holiday images — no doubt the forerunner to modern day scrapbooking.
~
In hopes of gaining a personal perspective, I tried keeping a Commonplace Book, but failed miserably. At the time I claimed it was because I feared damaging the vintage die-cuts I’d collected. But truth be told? Elmer’s Glue-All did me in.
~
After several frustrating attempts, an editor suggested I settle for substituting one daily commonplace occurrence of joy, instead. I never actually completed the assignment, but I am still keeping the book.
~
These are randomly selected happy-dance (commonplace) occurrences.
~
May 9, 1976
Elizabeth’s mother doesn’t drink alcohol. She said it makes her elbows weak.
~
February 20, 1983
Mom recounted her search to update her wardrobe today. “I saw a dress and the tag was $700.00, and I said to Jesus — did you see that?”
~
April 20, 1985
On the way home from Hartford after midnight, it was pitch black overcast and we were lost. I insisted we stop at a closed down, boarded up gas station on a tiny triangle of land in the middle of a forked road so I could locate the North Star (which, it turned out, I couldn’t find if it was sitting on my nose). But wouldn’t you know, there I was, standing on top of our VW Bus — bothering no one by the way! — when a cop car pulls up, lights flashing, sirens screaming, and an officer gets out to ask me what I was doing. “I’m looking for the north star so I can get back to New York before sunrise,” I condescended. He calmly pointed the beam of his flashlight to a sign indicating we were five feet from the entrance to I-84.
~
March 30, 1991
Working as a team we simultaneously set off all the talking and musical stuffed toys on display at Walgreens tonight. (Some came running.)
~
September 22, 1996
It’s Sunday and still pouring sheets of rain, as it was when we went to pick up the papers and I spotted a poor old dog lying hurt in the gutter at the edge of the Methodist church parking lot. It enraged me! The mere thought that, even though the parking lot was packed with worshiper’s cars, there wasn’t an indication anyone had stopped to help that poor dog. I loudly denounced the depraved indifference of people in general (and this group in particular) as I jumped out into the deluge, only to discover the dog was dead and drown to boot. I make no apologies for the blubbering that overcame me as I dialed 911. They promised to send an officer immediately. In the interim, we dashed home (4 blocks) to get a clean, dry burial blanket to wrap the dog in, and returned just as animal control pulled up. After conversing briefly with the officer — a kind and sympathetic man who recognized (even through the blinding rain) how distraught I was. I gave him the blanket before I kneeled down into wastewater and petted the mongrel, apologizing for the cruelty of mankind, and blessing it’s soul and spirit, asking that I might be the best of it. Between sobbing and the downpour I was pretty much waterlogged by then, making it a struggle to get up before motioning to the officer that it was time. As he leaned over to drape the blanket, the mutt jumped up and ran away.
~
June 19, 2000
Before heading back to Michigan today, my mom hung a pair of her underwear on the pink room’s doorknob to dry, along with specific instructions. “Leave them there because I have plenty of panties at home and I’ll know right where to find them on my next visit.”
~
December 22, 2003
Elizabeth spent an hour tonight making me a gift by putting 3 pieces of rounded wood together with staples, tape, string, nails, and no logic whatsoever. To her finished “triangle tree” she wound some gold yarn, spacing it here and there in an attempt to create goddess-only-knows-what. It was touching to watch her engaged in earnest endeavor. Tiny tributes to the endurance of love are cemented within stolen moments such as these.
.
Okay, I guess there’s no sense in my trying to deny it.
.
These tidbits have my fingerprints all over them.
.
# # #
.
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist, author, and animal rescue activist.
Happy-Dance Occurrences © 6.3.18
.
I value your opinion and appreciate you for sharing this essay with others. Please select LEAVE A REPLY by clicking below the headline to express your thoughts on this post.
I’m all eyes and heart.
.
IMOGENE’S ELOISE : Inspired by a true story by Marguerite Quantaine is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.  PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK before selecting the Look Inside option over the cover illustration to read the first few chapters for FREE.
~
MY LITTLE BLACK DRESS IS PINK by Marguerite Quantaine is due for release all of a sudden on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

 

A Joy To Stand The Test Of Time

Birthday Greetings - Woman in White Dress, Flowers

~
While individuals of a certain age are asked for their secret to longevity, couples remaining together for decades are urged to reveal their recipe for happiness. And even though both invitations are staged before cameras producing edited soundbites, the one thing participants agree on out of earshot of the press is that the quality of time is the essence of both.

~
After learning that 60% of society is younger than age 50, we realized we’ve been in love longer than the majority of Americans have been alive. (Egad, did I just type that out loud?)

~
No matter. The fact remains that the quality of  joyful longevity depends on a continuous curve following life as the lesson of the day and — like history — whatever isn’t learned is doomed to be repeated with someone else.

~
Here are 48 things we’ve learned in 48 years of being in love.

~
.
1. Sound sleep requires laughter lastly.

2. The favored parent is emulated, eventually.

3. Lose at fault-finding.

4. Compliment a meal before adding salt.

5. Whatever is collected will someday be hoarded.

6. Think romantically.

7. Please and thank you are bff’s.

8. Holding hands while arguing is a hearing aid.

9. Listen with your entire body, inside and out.

10. Fight rhymes with flight.

11. Neither caress less, nor roar more.

12. A simple touch is apology enough.

13. Lower expectations except of self.

14. Have music playing in at least one room whenever home.

15. Speak softly and turn a deaf ear.

16. Think kindly about things remembered.

17. Don’t keep score.

18. Never hurt intentionally.

19. Tears have deeper meanings.

20. Leave sentimental notes in unexpected places.

21. Be both the best of you and the best of others.

22. Always ask what is needed, first.

23. Giving what you want is taking.

24. Offer your own opinion last, or not at all.

25. Pets make us better people than people can ever hope to be.

26. A single child will never share as readily as one raised with siblings.

27. Serve coffee with a kiss.

28. It’s not life, it’s living. It’s not death, it’s dying. It’s not fear, it’s fearing.

29. Levity is imperative.

30. Two televisions are better than one remote.

31. Be of mirrored ethics.

32. One comfortable bed in a home is enough.

33. A cloth table covering, cloth napkins, and a fresh flower, nightly.

34. Gush gratitude.

35. Make here the better place to be.

36. Slow dance under every full moon.

37. Send a card by snail mail a minimum of monthly.

38. Keep a joint journal.

39. Sleep in the buff.

40. Insolence provokes anger.

41. It’s neither the lie, nor the cover-up. It’s the enabling.

42. Say what you mean the first time.

43. If in doubt, don’t.

44. A know-it-all never is.

45. Keep a path cleared down the middle of the room.

46. Love is sacred.
 Belittling it is blasphemy.

47. Yes or no questions need one word answers.

48. You’re not 1-in-a-million. You’re 1-in-7.3 billion.

.
# # #
.
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist, author, and animal rescue activist.
A Joy To Stand The Test Of Time © 9.26.18
.
I value your opinion and appreciate you for sharing this essay with others.
Please select LEAVE A REPLY by clicking below the headline
to express your thoughts on this post.
I’m all eyes and heart.
.
IMOGENE’S ELOISE : Inspired by a true story by Marguerite Quantaine is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.  PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK before selecting the Look Inside option over the cover illustration to read the first few chapters for FREE.

~
MY LITTLE BLACK DRESS IS PINK by Marguerite Quantaine is due for release in August 2018 on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

 

PANTS ON FIRE

Fingers Crossed on Plate to Wish for Fate

I’ve been lying to my partner about something-or-other for 45 years. I consider it an essential ingredient in the recipe of happily ever after.
.
Oh sure, I know lying has been a ‘don’t’ on the Top 10 for nearly 58 centuries, and (no doubt) good books will be thumped in outrage at me for being an avowed fabricator.
.
No matter. I maintain that the best way to stay hopelessly devoted is to — subjectively and selectively — lie.
.
Case in point: Regardless of the fact that my much better half has enough clothes to restock the shelves of a small boutique, she doesn’t wear 95% of her wardrobe. Instead, she dons the same outfits, day in and out for an average of 2 years running, because each shirt, pair of slacks, sweater, sweatshirt, pajama top, tee, and jacket in a revolving variety rack of, sa-a-ay, 2 garments per category, is proclaimed to be her favorite.
.
This is where bleach becomes my buddy.
.
I accidentally splash bleach, or spill bleach, or mistake a spray bottle of Soft Scrub for Shout, or add Clorox instead of Downy to the rinse-cycle of any garment (including my own) that I cannot stand to look at for a tub-of-water longer.
.
In fact, hearing her scream from the laundry room “You idiot!” is like music to my ears and triumph to my eyes.
.
Saving her from potential harm (like when she insists it’s safe to clean the car mats lying on the ground in the pouring rain because she’s using a dry/wet vacuum) requires more creative lying.
.
That’s where a commercial artist comes in handy. Because almost all interviews written about her favorite celebrities can be (1) altered to reflect safer choices made on any given topic, and can be (2) printed out, complete with stock photos. It gives me comfort to know she’ll always listen to the advice of Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, and Cher. (Bless their little borrowed hearts.)
.
There was a time when too many knives presented a challenge here because she can’t grasp the idea that every good cook has her own set of knives, knowing the size, weight, and feel of each in her hand, it’s purpose and degree of sharpness for meat, vegetable, bread and bone.
.
But my darling has a dire need to buy every plastic handled five-and-dime knife at garage sales that “look just like” my wood handled German and Japanese cutlery. (They don’t. Not even close.)
.
So, I filled a small kitchen drawer with her knockoffs. Now, every time she comes home with a knife I act excited, steal a kiss, and quietly deposit the knife in the garbage. If she asks about the newbies, I point her towards the drawer.
.
Speaking of vegetables (as in overbuying them), that’s what the lidded bowl on my Kitchen Aide mixer hides. So far, the neighbors haven’t figured out who leaves fresh veggies in their mailbox late at night — but no one’s companied either.
.
Except for her.
.
“I wish someone would leave me free tomatoes in our mailbox sometime,” she said.
.
“How come we never get left any free Chiquitas?” she asked.
.
“Apparently the fruit fairy doesn’t like you,” she decided.
.
“Me?” I dare. “Not you?”
.
“Don’t be silly. Everyone likes me.”
.
True.
.
In all fairness, I did once sneak an apple into our mailbox. She bemoaned that it wasn’t a donut.
.
Inanimate objects are also factored in. Semiannually, she’ll want tickets to an Oldies But Goodies concert advertised weeks in advance of the event. I’ll squeeze her hand, promise we’ll go, and hurry off to write the concert on the calendar as a reminder before returning to her with a treat — a dish of ice cream, cookie, popcorn, or such.
.

But I never record the event because (a) she invariably forgets about it, and (b) it only took our attending one of those dreadful $40.00 per ticket concerts to teach me to … well … lie.
.
And so it goes.
.
Personally, I don’t understand those who always need to be right when an argument erupts, or prove a point, or stand on principle, or choose to hold others to a higher standard of truthfulness than they practice themselves, or insist that communication is the key to a good marriage.
.
Because, while she and I are seldom diametrically opposed on any issue, if she isn’t going to budge, I’ll always acquiesce, convinced that — unless conversation is salted with sincerity, peppered with levity, and garnished with good intentions — it isn’t communication at all.
.
It’s just babel.
.
That being said, I must confess it wasn’t true when I wrote, “I’ve been lying to my partner about something-or-other for 45 years.”
.
I’ve actually been lying to her about something-or-other for  45 years, 11 months, and 4 days.
.
And for this I am, truly, grateful.
.
#    #    #
.
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and novelist.

.
.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
Please select REPLY to offer feedback, and
SHARE THIS essay to start a discussion.
Thanks for stopping by!.
.
.
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK
without first reading 7 chapters for FREE on Amazon to determine the caliber of writing and quality of the story. Select “Look Inside” over the cover of the book. Thanks!

SheMagRev

IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true-love story
by Marguerite Quantaine
http://www.amazon.com/Imogenes-Eloise-Inspired-true-love-story/dp/0940548011/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434585436&sr=1-1&keywords=Imogene%27s+Eloise

IT’S ALL ABOUT HOW WE LOVE

 

IE.Cover

It’s all about how we love.

How we find and lose love. How we hide and expose love.
How we seek and defeat love. How we suffer and celebrate love.
How we record and remember love. How we inspire and discourage love.

How we resist and grant love. How we legalize and criminalize love.
How we categorize and codify love. How we respect and disdain love.
How we treat and mistreat love. How we fund and squander love.
How we laugh and cry over love. How we accept and reject love.

How we name and number love. How we facilitate and foil love.
How we sense and ignore love. How we affirm and deny love.

How we use and abuse love. How we buy and sell love.
How we settle for love. How we treasure love.
How we let love go.

From Chapter 1 to Chapter 72,
that’s all this novel is about:
the phenomena of love,
with 67 memorable LGBT characters,
Including you.

Because you are in this book,
as the person you were, are, or wish you’d been,
with people you know, knew, or wish you’d known,
all in the pursuit — and each
touched by the joy of
love.

~

IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true-love story
by Marguerite Quantaine
383 Pages
.
37 Spectacular reviews
.
NOW ON AMAZON
at the Kindle nearest you.
Also available in paperback.
.

A Great Gift Idea For Birthdays • Anniversaries • Showers • Weddings • Chanukah • Christmas • & Self

Please Share.
Thank you.