Tag Archives: Tory McCagg

Regeneration and Rejuvenation in Three Parts

PART I

Our lap pond no longer leaks. It hardly even evaporates. And I am determined to swim every day because this is not a four season pool and the season is fast coming to a close. The last two days, the water was 68 degrees and the air a bracing 47. Nippy. Almost too but still beareable. Delicious and there is a part of me that needs to be in that pool with the frogs and water bugs. When swimming between two mountains in that very cold water, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and convergence. As if all that has happened in my lifetime actually makes sense. That being here at Darwin’s View is exactly where I am meant to be. After these last seven years of bewilderment, that’s refreshing.

How get into the water? Once decided to do it (no, yes, no, yes, no, yes), I ask leave of the resident leopard frog. He dives off into the darkness, to safety. I step onto the first step to follow him, and the next, and the next. I can’t spend time considering the chill of the water. I know that if I hesitate for too long, my toes will be numb before I am fully submerged, and the swim will be a euphemism for a mere wetting. Splash! I’m in and fully awake, swimming from a pinked-by-the-sunrise Mount Monandock toward Pac Monadnock. Clouds rest on its shoulder like a blanket of snow. As I come up for breath, I note the plants of the pool’s stone bed regeneration system. Below me, water bugs do the breast stroke. Snails on the side of the pool. A dragonfly birthed from its cocoon. Skin chilling, I feel the shape of my body, where it ends and the water begins. My awareness of my feet, legs, torso is vivid. The water livens me. It heals me. It is me. Being. I am in the moment, for once, because the moment, this one in the pool, is absolutely perfect.

Only three laps. Four. Five. I could swim forever, and want to, but the cold sinks into my blood. My toes cramp. Unlike the frogs, I am not cold-blooded. Yet, even as I step out of the pool, I regret that sensation of breathless cold against my skin. That feeling of aliveness. Of I exist. Of I am. And I know the ununtterable importance of that beingness. Has anyone else felt it? It is without boundaries. It is the sensation of oneness. That we are all bound up in a whorl of energy that has no beginning or end.

PART II

An example of a lack of boundaries: Our free-range, a.k.a. feral, chickens. They have no discretion as proven by the peeps, who are now adolescents. They have taken over the handicapped-accessible walkway to the porch. It is dotted with their poo. Mo, in particular, likes to hang out there as the enclosure gives echo to his crow.

Yes, once again, we have hims. Mo and Muff. Mo is the top dude and chasing the older hens who are, needless to say, pissed that their peace and quiet is once again being broken by some upstart trying to mount them in adolescent fashion: no foreplay whatsoever. Mo is more concerned with his own needs than the hens’ which, if you are paying attention at all, you will note is pervasive in the world today. Too few are willing to take the time to consider the other side.

PART III

Balance. Life requires balance. In our demo-n-capitalist society, balance has been gerrymandered away. Energy, in the form of money, has been used to upend democracy, creating an unnatural chaos, a seemingly bottomless vortex of anger and hate that masks a deep and unexplored fear. Unbearable sadness. The pain of rejected love and lost connection. We will have to face that pain, if we are to heal it. It is very ugly. Evil. As terrifying as it is terrified. But here we are at a confluence of tides: hate meeting compassion. Words meet action. Words are so much easier. After all, here I am on my little hill taking a dip in my piece of heaven, a regenerative lap pond. Easy for me to say march in peace, be. I am white. I’ve never known poverty. My present moment isn’t dangerous.

Granted, one never knows. There is a gun club near us here. People practicing their aim on human forms.

Would Jesus do that?

Mohammud?

Buddha?

We know that Ghandhi didn’t shoot guns, and I have wondered: in real life, as opposed to fiction, does good win over evil? Compassion and love over hate. There does seem to be a shift going on. We are in the midst of a nightmare but look how many people now are involved and active  against intolerance and hate who would not have been otherwise. The question being, will it be enough? Like so many totalitarian regimes, our current head of government doesn’t listen. Doesn’t care. He rolls forward unheeding, like an army tank over living beings. Individuals sacrifice for something bigger than any one person. Life snuffed. Is there still hope?

Rather like the eclipse. It was only a partial eclipse at Darwin’s View. Even so, it was unsettling to watch. Through the welder glasses that friends of ours brought, the sun was green. Had I been a youth, I would have announced, “It’s not the moon that is made of blue cheese but the sun!”

A bite in the sun, getting bigger and bigger, and mini eclipses scattered on the ground through the dappled light of trees.

We know the science of it, the physics, but what of its magic? The energy of so many people coming together to watch the power of Mother Nature. The moon calmly, steadily, inevitably covering the sun. Only for two hours. And then the sun came back . . . perhaps changed. I like to think so. I like to think that maybe the patriarchal norms that have ruled this society shifted, influenced by the moon’s energy and all the women who have been galvanized by the current situation. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, instead of destruction, we will begin to rebuild, using our humanity, not our greed and fear, as the foundation. I have to believe this because the alternative is as dark as if the sun had not come back.

Last week the eclipse.  Next week, a full moon. The tides rise. Especially in Texas.

The Varied Paths to Publication Book Tour & Its Consequences!

IMG_3943Jaffrey to Hartford to Jaffrey to Providence to Stonington—twice—to New York City to Providence to Jaffrey to Saratoga Springs to Jaffrey (and up Mount Monadnock to celebrate our 25th Anniversary!) to Burlington, VT to Randolph, VT to South Burlington, VT. to Jaffrey to Providence to New York to Providence (Happy Birthday to me!) to Boston to Providence where I type now. In one month and one week. 2214 miles. 41 hours and five minutes of  movement over the course of 36 days. Which equals 61.5 miles a day at 54 miles per hour. Thank goodness for calculators and thank goodness it’s over. We had a great time but my soul is huffing to catch up. Even Carl got a bit confused when we were leaving Boston the other night post a Boston Community Capital celebration: as we approached the entry to Route 93, he had a moment: where were we going? North or South?

Between family commitments and The Varied Paths to Publication Book Tour, our carbon footprint has been shocking this month. Too, I raised the heat in our Endless Pool in Providence from 50 to 86 so that I can use said pool, thereby exposing the fact that I am my own worst enemy in my war against climate change. Granted, the trips to New York were made by train, and once we got to a city, we stuck to walking but my feints at change have been as vexatious and quixotic as a regular American’s hope to find a drop of democracy in the tea party’s vitriol, or a vertebra of backbone in too many Democrats. But before I go too far down the Road of Rant, let’s return to the over two thousand miles Carl chauffeured me through in the past two weeks.

Varied Paths Tour

SaratogaSprings flyer 8.8.15 final JPEGIn Saratoga Springs, the Northshire Bookstore hosted Nina Gaby, Tammy Flanders Hetrick and Celine Keating and me. We had a great discussion with a small but interested audience. Yes! We had an audience though we knew only our spouses. It was, indeed, an auspicious beginning and fun way to get to know these three authors. I had read their books (Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women; Stella Rose and Play for Me, respectively) and it was quite wonderful to hear them read their books, and talk about writing, publishing and being women of a certain age and attitude. Which is the sub theme of the tour. I found it incredible and slightly intimidating to be with such energetic, cool women.

IMG_3789Back in Jaffrey, Carl and I did some amazing foraging and then climbed Mount Monadnock to celebrate our 25th if-you-can-believe-it anniversary. It was the first time Carl had climbed the White Dot and I saw him bristle when he had to pay to climb his mountain. But the five dollars goes to support the maintenance and oversight of the mountain and so, with that justification, we proceeded on a perilous, vertiginous climb.

IMG_3813May I just say, we aren’t as young as we used to be but we still know how to climb mountains: with each other to help!

 

IMG_3820 As we cheerfully commented after making it to the top: It’s all down hill from here! Via the White Cross trail, which was touted as less steep yet was more slippery and painful to the knees . . . but going down hill always is, isn’t it? Half way down, as I slipped on another slick rock, I had to wonder: why cross?

That weekend, we drove to Burlington for the Burlington Book Festival, and two Book Tour events, one in Randolph and one in South Burlington.

IMG_3884At the book fest, we had the pleasure of hearing David Macaulay, Paul Muldoon and Abigail Thomas speak. And of being interviewed by Lesley Nase for her radio show Books, Yarns and Tales.

IMG_3889 And onward to Randolph, where we ate fantastic cronuts (who needs NYC!) and drank decent espresso—who’d’a thunk!—at the Three Bean Cafe—and enjoyed a great gathering at the Art of Vermont Gallery. There we dug a bit deeper into our personal stories and I had the pleasure of meeting Alexis Paige, one of the contributors to Nina’s book and our special guest that day. And then we headed back up to South Burlington’s Barnes and Noble.

IMG_0984Ironies abound, don’t they? Years ago, I wrote a short story called “Chain Material” about a dastardly chain bookstore that, like an octopus had spread its tentacles. A chain rather like Barnes and Noble—which today is almost a local bookstore. Certainly this one supports authors and building community.

We drove home to the light of the moon which later that night eclipsed. We made it about a third of the way through before passing out.

IMG_3845The next morning, during a lull in our active driving schedule, I briefly faced the dilemma of our dapper Little Big Man. There is no mistaking his rooster-ish ways anymore and I keep thinking how this should not have happened. He was supposed to be a she. But I could say the same about Big Red, previously Rhoda Red, who is now three. It does make me a bit sick. Last year was so easy! We adopted the sex-link girls Brownie, Clownie and Downie. Yes, Opie, too. Who for all I know was a boy and was kind enough to die so I wouldn’t have to deal with another Roo. Just as did Little Big Man, Surprise and Exclamation’s brother who died four days after his arrival. Thoughtful boy. But really? I ordered auto sexed chicks. A no brainer. No mistakes possible! And still we received two boys. I appear to be irresponsible but really, I think these things through. Maybe stopping short of thinking it through to all possible consequences. But we now have two cocks and Big Red is being strangely obsequious. IMG_3869He’s sleeping on the coop floor. Leaving Little Big Man to get an ego.

All to say, we aren’t there. We are here. Again. Heading there shortly. And I have signed up at NaNo to write a novel next month. Even as I struggle to find a story for my soon to be trashed book that was supposed to save the world and now?

Writer’s block sucks.

IMG_3898Which leads me to suspect that all the movement might be having consequences I hadn’t anticipated. Or maybe, unconsciously, I did. Maybe I don’t want to find the story? Or write one? Maybe I’m supposed to be paying more attention to other things. Like my cats.

Final note: a new person that I met on the road wrote on his facebook page that he “was going to write like a motherfucker” last weekend. Excellent goal except. . . . has anyone read the definition of motherfucker recently?

So instead of wanting to write like a motherfucker—I know, it’s just a saying but my grandmother berated me once for using such language in my writing. There are better and more interesting phrases—next time I sit down to write I will hope to write like someone who has something true to say, and —most important—that I figure out a way to say it.

Daytime Television Damnation

IMG_0234Far be it from me to judge anyone who decides to dress up like a chicken and go on national television, there to jump up and down and scream along with an entire audience of other people doing the same. I’m a chicken lover. I should be thrilled by this expression of chicken worship. But I suspect these folks also eat chicken wings during sports events and thereby support the torture of chickens in factory farms; and believe that choosing door number one, two or three is more important than voting. Thus, I judge, and avoid daytime television.

But this past week, Continue reading Daytime Television Damnation

Mud Season 101

MUD SEASON 101

IMG_2633_2Saturday was a spectacular day. It was spring like they write about.

Our rosemary plants and Figgy out sunning themselves.
Our rosemary plants and Figgy out sunning themselves.

I had planned to go to the Monadnock Writers Meeting to hear the New Hampshire Poet Laureate but at home, I dawdled. By the time I left, I had missed the meet and greet part of the meeting but was determined to follow through with my plan-for-the-day: Attend the talk and discussion, then go off to buy organic shrubberies, wherever I might find them. A happy balance of intellectual stimulation and interaction with people, and gardening prep.

IMG_2610_2. . . Determined might be too strong a word. Ambivalent. Continue reading Mud Season 101

A Dark Cloud in Search of a Silver Lining

IMG_2189
I was in a dark mood yesterday. The winter solstice had come and gone, officiating the onset of winter, (even if it was raining) and the start of the days lengthening. The rotation of the seasons. Hope. Spring will, perhaps, arrive and spring brings to (my) mind chicks. A happy thought. Until, when caroling at the farm, I heard a story. Continue reading A Dark Cloud in Search of a Silver Lining

My cross-country, whistle stop book tour with flash readings assessment: Amtrak

IMG_1699What logic did we follow when we decided to travel across the country and back by train? The logic of principles. Think carbon footprint. Flying sucks. Driving would be exhausting and relentless, and would take us full circle, back to carbon footprint.

Carl, of course, was game to drive if we decided to tuck our carbon footprint into the backseat. He is a road warrior having been “on the road” as a musician for years. He’s used to cruising across the country in a bus and has always said he’d love to go across the country without a schedule to push him along.

But we had a schedule, if a self-imposed one. Two flash readings in New York. Two in D.C.. Two in Chicago, and then straight to the west coast for ten more. Continue reading My cross-country, whistle stop book tour with flash readings assessment: Amtrak

Independent Bookstores: Who needs them?

Do independent bookstores matter? Hmmm.

Have you seen the Monty Python skit in which a medieval monk is staring, with much frustration, at a book on his desk? A knock at the door. “Tech support!” With relief, the monk ushers in the tech support fellow. He points to the book, saying something to the effect of, “I can’t open this thing. Scrolls made so much more sense.”

I use this skit to show how far technology has come, and to point out that, what we consider old hat used to be new, and hard to understand and use. Regarding books (and clocks with hands, not digits) the upcoming generation might be reaching a point that they don’t know how to use such archaic technologies. But Continue reading Independent Bookstores: Who needs them?

Reposting my She Writes posts on cross-country, whistle-stop book tour with flash readings!

Home sweet home. I posted a few thoughts on the trip in three posts at She Writes. I’ll link them here for the record and so I have a record of them here.

Pre-departure:

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/my-cross-country-whistle-stop-book-tour-with-flash-readings

During the trip (which I posted at this site as well.)

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/cross-country-whistle-stop-book-tour-with-flash-readings-part-two

And the final post, back home.

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/cross-country-whistle-stop-book-tour-with-flash-readings-part

I’ll leave it at this for this point. But will upload my thoughts on independent bookstores and public transportation in the next two posts.

See you then!

Toot!  Toot!

18th Flash Reading: Darwin’s View

We are home! It was cold and windy out there, as you will hear. It’s great to be back. Two cats and ten chickens and a final flash to introduce what’s next. We hope you’ve been as amused by these videos as we have been! Bloopers to come!
Tory & Carl

8th Whistle Stop: Havre

Progressing across the country . . ..