Tag: telling stories (Page 1 of 2)

A Tale of Two Kitties


Once upon a time
there was A Wee Small Palace
(because Palaces come in all sizes, you know)
perched at the tiptop of a mountain.
Though nice enough by certain standards,
it was considered A Palace
because of the waterfall on which it sat.
A waterfall that went down


and down


and down


all the way into a magical lake.


Inside The Wee Small Palace,
two kitties lived side by side.


Though he could fool you because he primped a lot,
obviously concerned with his appearance,


the one named God
(which is dog spelled backwards, you know)
could be a bit of a bully.


Even in her beautiful coat of many colors,
our girl Pipp
was skittish of anything that breathed
(which often made her the perfect target for God.)


Despite her generalized and pervasive cautiousness,
Miss Pipp did love and trust one person:
the woman called Jeanne,

IMG 0322

often showing her affection
by running figure 8’s around Jeanne’s feet,
something that caused Jeanne to stumble
and trip
and cuss.
Though annoyed at not being able to walk
through her own house without incident,
Jeanne knew that as a baby,
Miss Pipp was attacked by a predator,
and she just always assumed
that the memory of that
rendered Miss Pipp unable to play
or love
or be loved
in the usual sense.

One gloriously temperate fall day,
our Miss Pipp was so besotted
that her figure 8’s took her right ouside with Jeanne,
an act that surprised everybody,
including Miss Pipp.


As Miss Pipp walked around,
trying to get her bearings,
it became increasingly obvious that God was not just surprised,
God was annoyed.
God was upset.
God was quite possibly even concerned.
“Maybe you haven’t noticed,
This is not good.
This is not right.
God begged Jeanne repeatedly.


whom God now considered an Absolute Fool,
simply went to fetch her camera.
God paced


and he perched


and finally he just stopped and stared.


Once over her initial shock of being outside,
and realizing that God couldn’t get to her now,
Miss Pipp decided maybe it wasn’t so bad being outside and on her own.
She explored a bit


then she just laid down to enjoy catching a few rays
in her newfound peace.


Understanding how a girl often needs to be outside by herself,
Jeanne went back inside and set about doing the laundry.
Or something.
Eventually Miss Pipp knocked on the door
saying she was ready to come in now, please
and after an initial rumble
that sounded for all the world like God was saying
though it could have been that he was actually saying
“What was it like out there, Miss Pipp? Tell me everything”
sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference
between scolding and relief, you know,
the two kitties are back together again.


And while Miss Pipp
settles down by the warm breeze
from the ice maker
and dreams of being a jungle kitty,


God sleeps the sweet restorative sleep of knowing
that disaster was avoided
and all’s right in his world again.

The End.

Though maybe it’s really The Beginning . . .

day after day after day


How we feel about events, respond to them, transform them and judge them, is a matter of the shape of our spirit, the corrugation of the feathers in our wings. And this, the shape of our spirit, our way of reflecting the world, is something we must work to create and tend, day after day after day.
~~ Kathleen Dean Moore ~~


How did you shape your spirit today?
Reflect the world?
Create and tend?

Regale me.
Right here
right now,
regale me.

More about 365 Altars



the call
(in the form of a poem by jan l. richardson that has captured my heart):

Wise women also came.
The fire burned
in their wombs
long before they saw
the flaming star
in the sky.
They walked in shadows,
trusting the path
would open
under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permission
from any king.
They came
by their own authority,
their own desire,
their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparkling no fears
to lead
to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s
inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came,
and they brought useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing
fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in the labor,
crying out with her in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings
into her ear.

Wise women also came,
and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way.


and my response:
(in my humble, jumbled, stream-of-consciousness-cause-it’s-christmas-after-all way)

to all the wise women
who stoke the fires
who don’t wait for a star
to guide the way
who walk in the shadows
knowing there
are many paths,
all Right,
all leading home

to all the wise women
who revel in the moonlight
dance in the checkout line
spill music with their words

to all the wise women
who trust their own
internal navigation system,
helping another up
when she falls,
whispering walking sticks
or knitting balms of silence
until she feels restored

to all the wise women
who ask their questions
knowing that sometimes
the only answers
are more questions
and still more questions

to all the wise women
who know
that sometimes
bandages are bindings
and other times
bindings are bandages
and that whether
bandages or bindings,
bands of cloth
can be removed and
woven into something

to all the wise women
who come into
and with
their own authority
who sing
their own songs of
and lamentations
who put on socks
of pure, unadulterated
every single morning
and dance
for insight
and laughter
who inhale
the goodness that surrounds them
and exhale
gladness and gratitude
who touch
with gentleness, tenderness, confidence

to the wise women
whose hearts
open like colorful
night after
day after
after day

even though you rarely
draw attention to yourself,
i see you
thank you
love you
celebrate you
cherish you,
you and your genuine genius and gorgeous glory.



at first glance,
it’s obvious she belongs to
the Sunflower family.
the family resemblance is obvious.


those yellow petals
shining brightly
from the dark center
of seeds.
future generations of Sunflowers.


but sit with her,


take a while to get to know her,


and you’ll see that
while yes,
she is a Sunflower,


she is more
than who she’s related to,
more than the
from which she


so much more.


and maybe
not at all
what you
thought she was
when you knew her
only as a Sunflower.

the way we were . . . are


i am honored to have been the entertainment for my high school class reunion last saturday night. now, almost a week later, i’m still enjoying the afterglow. there’s something downright magical about standing before your true peers, leading them on a trek down memory lane – a trek you know from the outset won’t be finished that night. i’ve got enough stuff and enough stories to last at least two more treks, a.k.a. reunions. there’s simply never enough time, is there?

my mother had her class reunion that same day – class of 1945. they get together every october – every single october. their love and support for each other is strong. maybe they cleared the path for us. maybe they set the stage, the example.


a surprisingly large number of us went through all 12 years of school together – that’s really something, isn’t it? we knew each other’s parents and fought with each other’s siblings like they were our own. though we knew there was a mother round every corner making it downright impossible to get away with anything, we still tried. occasionally. the entire village raised us, and i don’t remember one parent ever turning on another with that how-dare-you attitude. they simply thanked each other for caring enough, then resumed the badminton game.

such a satisfying sense of groundedness to be with people you bore witness to and who bore witness to you throughout years of major evolutionary and developmental changes. people who you spent 6-7 hours a day with in class, then several more hours in after school activities, then church and other community events. spending the nights together, partying, talking on the phone. learning, knowing, realizing, grappling, struggling, celebrating together. it was fun to reconnect. to remember. to leave the years and any unpleasant memories far, far away from this gathering. to laugh nostalgically. to note countless times we’ve amazed and astounded ourselves and each other.

only one person asked me the dreaded question “what do you do?” maybe it’s cause nobody’s interested, but i prefer to attribute it to a deeper level of togetherness and acceptance that connects us. a knowing that what we do isn’t who we are, and who we are is what’s most important. there is space in our togetherness. there is love in our togetherness. the kind of space that just happens. the kind of love you can’t buy.



or maybe the next day,
you’ll see


or these:


or these:


along with this:


and this:


as i launch
red phone stories.

i won’t do them
every day
like far too many
high maintenance.
every now ‘n then,
i’ll be
sharing a
red phone story,
telling you
about women
and reclaiming



do you see the silhouette there?
the face in the stone?
you need to know this about me:
i am bad to personify.
equally bad to tell stories . . .

every morning
at dark thirty,
she pulls her soft, wispy white hair,
a gift from her matriarchal lineage,
into a bun at the nape of her neck
to keep it out of her way
while she feeds fabric
under the needle
that dances up and down
in direct proportion
to the cast iron pedal
she pumps up and down with her feet.

the steady whirring
of the old singer machine
fills the air with music
as she creates quilts –
one for each child,
one for each grandchild –
from assorted scraps of fabric
purchased from
her friend across the street,
paid for with one of her
pineapple upside-down cakes.



i am surrounded,
almost to the point of suffocation, really,
with boxes of family history and herstory.
photos out the wazoo.
birth certificates
death certificates
marriage certificates.
family documents,
legal documents
all carefully organized
and stored in archival quality boxes,
these papers
that prove somebody existed,
but not that they lived.

The Meeting

For this week’s prompt, grab something out of your pantry and write a short piece – using all the words in the ingredients.



That’s what they called themselves: Broth. No “The” to confuse alphabetization efforts, just pure and simple “Broth.” It was Chicken Swanson’s idea – both the name and the group itself. Chicken was always hatching some idea to bring people together.

“Let’s take stock,” she clucks. (Most people would’ve said “This meeting is called to order” but not Chicken. Things just drop right out of her mouth that leave folks nodding and smiling and sometimes scratching their heads.) “Let’s get right on down to business. Now what I want to know is: what are y’all doing to make plans for the new year? Tell me everything.”

From her place in the circle, Chicken looks everybody in the eye, then passes The Wish Bone (the Broth version of a talking stick) to Salt. “Salt, you first. What’s your plan?”

“I’m focusing on preservation this year,” Salt says. “I’m gonna’ scan my picturebooks and all my mess of papers and store them up there in the cloud. Then I’m gonna’ go on over to the bank and clean out my safety deposit box, whip them paper babies into some semblance of order. Why I’ll bet I can fill a trashcan with stuff I don’t need any more. Then once all that’s done – should take me till about August or so – I’m gonna’ set to darning some socks and patching the holes in my umbrella so it’ll last another year. Yep, preservation is the name of my game this year.”

Flavoring smiles and nods (which is probably why Salt hands The Wish Bond over to her). Flavoring’s mother was an odd thing, always scooting around town in skin-tight britches and a man’s XL t-shirt. That woman was forever motion, let me tell you, so when she gave birth, she named her baby girl Flavor because she knew – she just knew – her life was gonna’ taste different from now on. Then she up and added the “ing” as her salute to action. “I thought about getting organized this year,” Flavoring says, “but then good sense got the better of me and I decided to focus on accessorizing. Clothes and physical spaces, I’m talking about. Even my car – no fuzzy dice or pom-pom trim around the top, mind you – but I’m going to accessorize nevertheless. Maybe a glitzy new license plate holder. Or maybe I’ll just replace the burnt-out license plate bulb to you can read my special order “FLAV-O-RNG” license plate in the dark and call it done. Dext Rose, how about you go next, hon?”

Though named for both her mama (Rose) and her daddy (Dext, short for Dexter), Dext Rose was natural goodness feminine through and through. “Oh, I’m gonna’ work in my garden more this year,” Dext Rose purrs. “First I’m going to get me a pretty new pair of pink gardening gloves. I’d like some of those that are soft leather with that special gripping stuff on the inside. Do y’all know where I can get some like that with roses on ’em? I think I might get me one of those new short-handled shovels I saw in my catalog, too, and a new pair of pruning scissors and some root tonerizer. Then after I go shopping, I’m going straight over to get me a cutting of my Aunt Rene’s Opening Night rose and that floribunda number that nearly took over her backyard. Do y’all remember that bush I’m talking about? We used to stop by and cut us off a red rose every year on Mother’s Day. Till Mother died. Anyway, I’m going to take those cuttings home and dip ’em in some root tonerizer and stick ’em in a pot to see if I can’t root me some rosebushes. And in keeping with my rose theme, I’m watching the Rose Bowl Parade from start to finish. I’ll cook my blackeyed peas and turnipgreens before or after, but not during. And let me tell you: I’ve already got me some Rose Water Glycerin lotion that smells so good. Every time I open it up, I can’t help but think of Grandmother. She wore Jergen’s, you know, and it had a touch of rose water in it. Or was it glycerin? Oh, I sure wish I could get a cutting of her rosebush. So, my darlings, from start to finish, I hereby declare this The Year of the Rose.”

“Well, Dext Rose, I’ll put you down to provide table decorations at our luncheons,” Chicken says, always looking for ways to delegate, always planning ahead. Then, knowing how Dext Rose tends to go long when she gets to reminiscing about the past and planning the future, Chicken asks her “Now who do you want to go next?”

“I believe I’d like to hear from Yeast now,” declars Dext Rose with a big smile and a nod of her head for punctuation.

Yeast, who was a list maker and compartmentalizer from way back, vows to try her hand at creating a collage then extracting meaning from the images and words.

“Oh goodie,” says Dext Rose, clapping her perfectly manicured hands in front of her red-lipsticked mouth. “That reminds me of the time I went to the county fair and had my palm read. It was so much fun. I went with my friend, Too Percent. We call her that because she’s just not all there, if you know what I mean. Yeast, honey, do you think there’s a chance you might take up reading tea leaves next cause I’ve always wanted to have that done, you know. I’ll be your first customer.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Dext Rose. That’s way too much planning for me right now. Let’s just sit quietly and see what rises to the top. But enough about that. Now then, let’s hear what the Juicers are planning this year.”

Celery, Carrot, and Onion Juice are triplets, and we call them The Juicers for short cause they’re always together. I mean always. You see one of them, you see three of them, that’s just the way they are. I hasten to add, however, that though they may be triplets and though they enjoy being together, they are also three separate and distinct individuals. Because of her keen ability to see in the dark, Carrot is a sought-after companion for any haunted house or campout adventure. Whenever we go out at night, we rent a van and Carrot drives.

Onion is a writer, and I declare: that girl can make you cry all over the page. In fact, we have suggested more than once that she market each book with cute little tissue box cover made from fabric that goes along with the theme of the book.

Now Celery, well, I’m here to tell you: that girl is a mess. I don’t care where she is, Celery loves to perform, which makes her the Juice spokeswoman on account of the way Carrot and Onion are so quiet. When Yeast hands The Wish Bone to Celery, we don’t think a thing of it when Onion and Carrot automatically reach over to hold on to it, too, while Celery says, with characteristic flair, “The Juicers are pleased to announce – drumroll please – that this will be the year . . . to concentrate. Carrot – stand up, Carrot. Carrot is going to concentrate on becoming green. Let’s give her a round of applause. Thank you, Carrot. You may now be seated,” and as Carrot takes her seat, Celery turns to Onion, and with an ease that lets us know it’s happened before, grabs her under the arm and pulls her up off the sofa. With her arm around Onion’s shoulders, Celery beams and says, “Onion is going to concentrate on skins and tears. Isn’t that simply marvelous?” And with that, Celery initiates the applause for Onion and, after a respectfully short time, nods for her to return to her seat. “And last, but most assuredly not least, I, Celery, am going to concentrate on condiments.” And when she turns from side to side and makes a little bow, saying “Thank you, thank you,” we feel downright compelled to applaud for her, too.

And because nobody – not even Chicken herself – can think of a single thing to say after that, the meeting is quietly adjourned.

Pantry Item: Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth
Ingredients: chicken stock, less than 2% of salt, flavoring, dextrose, yeast extract, celery juice concentrate, carrot juice concentrate, onion juice concentrate

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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