Friday Flash Fiction

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
Photo Courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

This picture has a lot of inspiration packed into it. I made the mistake of reading a couple of entries and now have to see what new twist I can make on the same prompt. I usually don’t read until I’ve come up with my own. Now to let go and see where the creative river takes me.

Word count: 101


No man ever steps in the same river twice – all things are in flux like a river.” Elmer said quietly to himself.

“What you going on about?” Opal shook her head. “Old coot.”

He looked at the river, knowing his own feet had stepped there, younger feet, back when his world was new.

Heraclitus had it right. His life barely mattered and any impact would wash away like a footprint in the sand, gone before the next foot landed.

“Don’t forget to shut that damn window. You’ll catch your death.”

Nodding faintly, Elmer closed his eyes, hoping for just that.

To see other stories, please visit the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site here.

© Erin Leary

Out of Season

I love spring. It has always been my very favorite season – something about the suddenness of things bursting into life after being dormant all winter fills me with hope and gives me a feeling of wonder.

I have posted about the beauty in my garden as the early bloomers appear or about the glory of the nesting Great Blue Herons as they begin the cycle of bringing their chicks into the world. They are reminders that spring is here and all is right with the world.

Things have a time, a purpose, a season and the pattern is familiar and comforting. Then my thoughts drift to my sister, my friend, my constant companion. We often talked by phone as I took my walks that led me past the herons, especially toward the end of her life. I’d walk and tell her what I was seeing, describing the hungry chicks calling for their food like rusty hinges squawking with life.

It dawned on me earlier this week that I am almost exactly the age she was when she died. That thought stopped me in my tracks. I can’t imagine being ready to leave my life. It is staggering to think about, really. Her time was cut short – she was an out of season loss. Not everything conforms to the patterns or the timing of nature. It’s been five years this year that she lost her fight with pancreatic cancer and it’s gone by in a flash, while every day without her has felt too long.

As I think about it, I am reminded to live each day fully, as she chose to: to revel in the everyday things and marvel in the beauty of the world. She was an inspiration as she approached the end of her time with us. She wanted nothing more than one more day in case she had the opportunity to meet someone new and maybe touch another life with meaning. She was an optimist and kept her childlike wonder even as she faced the death sentence she’d been given. I loved that about her. I loved so much about her.

Jan, in her field of gold
I saw a picture of her flash by on my screensaver yesterday. It was taken a month or so before her death. She is standing in a field, lit up with golden sun at the end of the day, looking fragile but peaceful. She told me before she died that she visualized her home in heaven – she believed fully in what comes next – and saw it in a field just like that, lit with golden sunlight. Seeing that picture, I am filled with joy, then sadness at losing her, then anger at it coming too soon. All those emotions roil through me in a split second and then I say a silent “I love you, I miss you, it’s not the same without you” and smile. Everything has a season. Hers just came too soon.

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

Me, at the beginning

Me, at the beginning

Me, today

Me, today




50 Things I’m Grateful For

1. For the gift of life itself, thanks Mom & Dad!
2. Being alive – for my health
3. For learning to live with my limitations but not being defined by them
4. Being loved and loving others
5. My senses – being able to smell, see, taste, touch and hear all the wonders around me
6. My heart – for feeling things, for beating every second of every day
7. Freedom to choose my life’s path
8. Being told I could be anything I wanted to be and believing it
9. Taking the time to relish simple and pure moments
10. Safety – I don’t take that for granted
11. My home – and for feeling warm and cozy on a cold night.
12. My garden – for healing my wounds when I need it mostgarden
13. For learning when to say enough; for knowing when to keep trying.




14. For my parents again, for being wonderful examples of how to live a good life
15. For my brothers and sisters – my first tribe and my support system
16. For my children, for being my heart and soul3 Amigos
17. For my first husband, for the gift of our two oldest children
18. For my husband, for staying the course and working toward true partnership; for our shared history
19. For my very best friend in the entire universe (the world just wasn’t big enough), Lori. You know why.
20. For my dear friends who hold me up and smack me down when I need it most. Thank you all.
21. For the family I’ve created along the way – those people who are a part of my life and history
22. My pets. My life is enriched by them daily, in spite of the shedding, the puking, the scratching – they are true and loyal and pure love
23. For my memories – all the people who have come and gone from my life, leaving behind their imprint, some large and some small. My life is better for having known them.
24. For our family reunions each Labor Day – they are an anchor in my life and my story
25. For becoming more compassionate with age and knowing how much each of us carry with us as we go through life

26. My upbringing in a chaotic, action packed household – it shaped me and made me resilient.
27. My education and love of learning – I can’t imagine what I’d be like without that
28. Spending four years at Stanford. What an amazing place and what amazing people I met while there. I am still pinching myself about that time.
29. My time as a mother – something I thought I wasn’t going to be very good at, but the single thing that has made me a much better person.
30. My work – my accidental career in technology, as an entrepreneur, and mostly as a mentor to others. I have enjoyed it more than I ever imagined.
31. Living in the Northwest surrounded by some of the most beautiful places in the whole world. How lucky is that?
32. Learning to arrange flowers – who knew this would be a passion?
33. My recommitment to being a writer and the courage to say it out loud.
34. Travel – what a joy that has been – seeing the world, being in places I’d only dreamed of being.Slano
35. Sports – I can’t go through this whole list without that! They are a central part of my life experiences, as a player, as a coach, as a fan.
36. Reading – this is my daily vice; I can’t imagine a world without books to read.
37. Helping others. Nothing makes me happier than when I put others first to be of service.


38. Coffee…it is a daily pleasure
39. Chocolate…no longer daily, but still something to savor
40. Creating things – food, art, a garden – these are the small creations that make life a joyIMG_00000425
41. Seeing the sunrise or sunset and being reminded that beauty is everywhere
42. Taking the time to walk barefoot in sand or grass and remembering the miles I ran barefoot as a child
43. Seeing a smile on a relative’s face who has become the spitting image of my grandmother or aunt who are no longer with us
44. Continuing to learn and stretch my mind
45. Relaxed moments of companionship, whether with people, a good book, or my furry friends
46. For the rain and the good it does the earth
47. For the sun, which is so welcome after the rain
48. For the ground, for what grows is both beautiful and essential to life
49. For believing that miracles can happen and that sometimes the impossible can be achieved.
50. For Life. I’ve now come full circle.

Thanks to Dawn Quyle Landau at Tales From the Motherland for initiating this!  You can find other bloggers’ posts here.  To participate, follow these rules and then click on the Blue Frog Guy below.

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list (the timer doesn’t matter for filling in the instructions, intro, etc). The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s OK. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the very bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2015. After that date, no blogs can be added.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise; I will remove it. Aside from that one caveat, there is no such thing as too much positivity. Share your happy thoughts, your gratitude; help us flood the blogosphere with both!

May your holidays be filled with happiness and gratitude!


Flash Friday Fiction

maui-from-mauna-keaPicture courtesy of Doug MacIlroy

Call the police, I broke the law.  Scattering ashes requires a permit most places.  Hawaii must have its share of scofflaws like me who come to honor a loved one’s last wishes…but then again, they have ashes in the wind on a regular basis.  This story is more truth than fiction.  Thanks to Doug for the lovely muse his photo provided.

Word Count: 99

Silver Linings

– Well, now you can scatter my ashes with dad’s on Maui this summer.

We were listing the positives of mom’s terminal diagnosis, trying to make the best of things.

– Somewhere near Makena Beach, if you can.  You kids used to have such fun there.

Hawaii wove through my parent’s life like a vibrant green tendril, tying together our memories.  It was their paradise, their place.

Rising above the clouds as we head back to the mainland, the sun paints their edges with liquid silver.   Promises kept, memories honored, we left more than our hearts behind this time.

Please check out the links to all the other Flash Friday Fictioneers, which can be found here.

© Erin Leary

That’s Charisma, That’s What That Is

When my daughter was about 8 years old, something her younger brother did struck her as asking for trouble.  She watched him do this thing, like reaching for the last piece of pizza and spilling his milk as a result.  Shaking her head, she pronounced “That’s charisma, that’s what that is.”  We all knew she meant karma, but the way she said it made it an instant part of our family vernacular.  Whenever someone does something that sets them up to get a swift kick from karma, we mutter “That’s charisma…”

Karma is a part of Buddhism and Hinduism, among other eastern religions.  The underlying principle of Karma is that it brings back the results of actions to the person performing them.  Good actions equal good karma.  Bad actions, bad karma.  Simple, elegant, and self-sustaining.

So it’s nice when Karma (with a capital K) comes out to play nice.  In a post from late last year, I was bemoaning the piling on effect of some not so fun events that were going on in my life. It felt like I was on the receiving end of a pretty severe crap storm, even though I felt in my heart that I had worked to sow good energy in the universe.

For the most part, I play the long game.  A short term win that sows bad karma is not my style.  I look for things to balance out over time – but when it comes with a big fat sign that says “Universal Payback Ahead”, I sit up and pay attention.  To wit, my tale.


Following our separation as we headed into divorce, my soon to be ex took possession of our joint savings account as well as the two savings accounts we’d set up for our children.  There wasn’t a lot of money in any of the accounts and I wasn’t going to fight it.  His logic then was that I wasn’t trustworthy enough to manage the accounts for the kids, therefore he would do it.  I told him that as long as he used it to help pay for college, I was fine with him taking stewardship of the funds.  That was in 1995.

The big issue last fall was around his unwillingness to pay his full 50% share of the kids’ college expenses.  After child #1 was done with school and child #2 was a senior, he informed me he wasn’t willing to pay me back in full.  He hid behind the one paragraph clause in our divorce paperwork and parsed it down to the bare black and white legal language of 50% of tuition only, no books, no fees, or other charges.  In addition, he capped it at the state school tuition level, which meant our daughter’s private school tuition was a problem.

After the dust settled on this dispute, he ended up paying more than he wanted to but less than what was his true 50% share.  His relationship with both kids was damaged and is still not repaired.  The cost to him in trust was steep – I’m not sure he really understands how much damage was done.  I stood up for the kids and stood my ground, knowing that this wasn’t really about money but about control and making me pay for the hurt I’d caused him.  After 18 years of being divorced and working be a good co-parent, the damage to me is complete.  I have no desire to have any relationship with him.  I consider his final payment our last real need to communicate.  I wish him well, but I don’t need to try anymore.  He forfeited my goodwill with this move.

Then came the phone call. A gentleman (who clearly enjoys his work) called last week with some surprising news.  He works for the department of revenue’s unclaimed property division.  He called asking for me.  He said he needed to find my children as they had some money in unclaimed property accounts.  I figured it was a refund or rebate of some sort, but he said it was a lot of money.  I’m thinking maybe $500 or so.  He then tells me that it totals over $20K.  At that point, you could knock me over with a feather.

It turns out that the savings accounts that were set up for our 2 kids when they were young ended up being abandoned by their father at some point.  He set them up as United Trust for Minors Accounts (UTMA) after our divorce.  Somewhere around 2001 after his second move, he lost track of them.  The statements went to an old address and after 3 years of no activity and no updated address, they were transferred to the unclaimed property division.  They have been collecting interest for the past 18 years and the little bit of money in them has grown substantially.

compintThis was money that he could have used to help offset their college expenses on his side.  I assumed all along that he had done so.  To find out that he not only forgot them but abandoned them altogether is like a gigantic green arrow flashing “Karmic Payback Here” – hard to ignore and a thing of beauty.  The best part is that since the accounts are UTMAs and the kids are no longer minors, the money is all theirs.  This windfall will help them get started in their adult life and will allow them to pay off student loans or put away some money for a down payment on a home.  After all, this was their money all along – money given to them for birthdays or Christmas that we thought they could use better when they were older.  For it to find its way back to them feels like a big cosmic win.

Just when I began to feel like a patsy for taking the high road and not asking for child support when I had the kids full time, Karma came through.  It felt like a gift from above to have this land in our laps.  It came without any strings, no need to fight for it. Perhaps the best stewardship he could have provided was to forget it along the way.  That way, it was there for the kids when they needed it.

Interestingly enough, his 50% share of the college costs that I’d covered was about $21K.  The timing of the universe providing almost that exact amount to the kids seemed to be a very clear indication that this was a result of Karma leveling the playing field.  I am downright giddy about it.  It helps me let go of any lingering bitterness or frustration at feeling taken advantage of.  I’ve let go of that feeling, as I made the decision to make our divorce not about money, but about doing what was right for our children.  By staying true to that aim, I know that in the long run I am much richer for it – not in money, but in my relationship with my kids and in my peace of mind.

Now that’s charisma, that’s what that is.

Friday Flash Fiction

Our kitchen remodel is almost complete.  I am now getting my things back in place after almost 2 months.  It’s beginning to feel like home again, not a project. 

Word Count: 100

Photo courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Two if by Sea

The warm light of the lanterns glowed; one for each of them.  This house had been his grandmother’s and had stood through gales and near hurricane conditions.  Windows rattled, pipes groaned – a veritable symphony of homey sounds.  Their sounds.

Looking around, the emptiness doubled.  Holding his hand, hanging on to his waning words. “Light them both, will you?  I’ll make sure you know I’m there.”

Her kids wanted her to remodel – to fix up the place, make it new.  She couldn’t, not yet.  Every evening, wind leaking through the window panes moved his flame just enough.  His signal.  Together, still.

Please check out the links to all the other Flash Friday Fictioneers, which can be found here.

© Erin Leary

Cardinal Conclave Concurrence

I happen to be in Rome for meetings at the same time the Conclave of Cardinals is at the Vatican selecting the new pope. I am not Catholic, but the importance of this event is not lost on me. It is something that has been going on for centuries. As with many things one sees in Rome, it is rich with history.

Tonight, we are dining at a restaurant near the Spanish Steps and St. Peter’s will be in sight. Perhaps we’ll see white smoke following their vote at 7 pm. If not, then maybe before I leave on Saturday morning.

Rome, the Eternal City

Rome, the Eternal City

Rome, the Eternal City

Turn, Turn, Turn

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn, a mosaic of them all.” –  Stanley Horowitz

Spring comes early here in the Northwest.  Our growing season, despite being so far north, is really long.  The warm air that comes in off the Pacific Ocean makes our winters much more temperate than many people realize.  One of my favorite things to do on a warmish day in February is to wander around the garden to see what is starting to come up.  I am usually doing some winter clean up, cutting things back and letting the new growth see the sun.  This past week, we had one of those days and I was able to see new life starting all around me.  You just have to look for it.  Some are blatant, like a bright red rhododendron bloom, and some are subtle, like the buds swelling on the red currant trees. 

In the past, spring was my very favorite season.  I am finding that I enjoy the hazy days of fall more and more.  Spring is full of crazy activity and lush life sprouting everywhere you look – it’s like a riotous teenager wearing bright clothes; fall is more sedate and sophisticated.  The colors are more reserved, with golds and reds taking over from pink, purple, and yellow. I love spring, but I relate to fall.  Maybe it’s the stage of life I am in, but the slower pace appeals to me. 

The part of spring that touches me most (and I realize we are not there yet, but it is beginning…) is that feeling of rebirth and renewal.  I need that in my life right now as I complete the cycle that follows loss.  Seeing the world become new again and feeling the potential that dormant plants emit gives me a much needed injection of hope. I watch the new growth like a mother hen, protective of my new babies and encouraging them along their path toward maturity. A cold snap could hit them hard, but I expect that they will survive. 

My yard has been a work in progress for the past 17 years.  I moved to this house and brought a few things from my old garden along, things I couldn’t bear to part with.  I have heirloom plants – those that were given to me by friends and family.  I had to bring along cuttings of the violets that once bloomed in my grandmother’s garden and the forsythia that was in my Aunt Betty’s.  These are plants that connect me to my own roots and I love having them here.  Most plants I have acquired or cultivated because I know they are hardy and will thrive with minimal care.  I know myself well enough to know that although I love my plants, I rule by benign neglect and they have to be able to survive in spite of me.  Through careful process of elimination, I have accomplished a very low maintenance garden. 

My hands will be in the dirt soon, planting, rearranging and shaping things for the rest of the growing season.  Dirt under my nails reminds me of my mom, my love of flowers connects me with Jan, and my dad simply enjoyed sitting outside looking at it all. I am able to let my mind wander while I work and I reminisce about springs past or times shared.  I am my most content in this state.  One time, while searching for some insight, I went to see a woman to have my horoscope read.  She told me that whenever I felt I was lost or needed to be calm, I should go put my hands in the earth and I would feel at peace.  I’ve remembered that these past 20 years and realize she was right.  I am connected best in my garden to my place here on earth and taking care of my little plot gives me great joy. 

So here’s to the coming spring and all the seasons as they line up to pass by.  I will appreciate each one in its turn, finding my place among the plants and trees in my garden and keeping my eye on what’s coming next in the growing cycle.  Aunt Betty’s forsythia is about to bloom and that means spring is on its way.  To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.  Let it ever be so.

All Will Be Well

I sat down this morning to start this entry and wondered what it would be called. I knew I wanted to write about the passing of “firsts” – the first Christmas without dad, the first Mother’s day without mom – but the first thing that came to me was “all will be well”. I knew I remembered those words from somewhere, but had to think about why they came to me now. So, turning to my trusted friend, Google, I looked it up. And there in the third entry was the quote and the name Julian of Norwich. Jan sent me a poem by this woman after dad died and we discussed whether it would be a good reading for his memorial service. I realized that this title was something Jan planted in my brain a while ago and is her message to me. All will be well.

We have made it through several major milestones over the past 19 months since dad died. We are almost at a year for mom and only 3 months into the cycle for Jan. The hardest time for me was last spring when we were faced with the first anniversary of dad’s birthday, Mother’s Day, their 61st wedding anniversary and Father’s Day all in a cluster. It was only a few months after mom died and I was still reeling from that twist of fate. I reached out to my brothers and sisters and we shared our thoughts and feelings with each other, some by phone, others by email. It was helpful to share the experience and not try to white knuckle through it. I decided that I would celebrate on April 28th with the first annual “Joe Kearney Day”, where in his honor, I asked people to remember him by doing something that would connect them to people, as was his style. The idea of using his best trait as a way of honoring him felt right – and even if only one person did, it would still make for a better day in the world. I did the same on Mom’s birthday this week and plan to for Jan’s in June.

Now that it is post-holiday season, I can say I’ve made it through another first. I had mixed emotions – sadness at not having three of my most important people in my life to share it with, relief at not having a medical drama being played out during December, and nostalgia as I remembered past Christmases with family. I carried on some traditions that were my parents to help fill the void they leave and having gifts under the tree that Jan picked out was a blessing. I even found gift tags from earlier years that had her handwriting on them that I was able to reuse. It felt like she was here with us.

With each passing event or milestone, there is wistfulness for that which is lost, that which is remembered, and that which is fading to the past. I want to hang on to my people, not let them slip away. I want to hold their memories close and honor them in some way. And yet I feel, at a very deep level, that all will be well. I know, because I’ve had that message delivered to me several times now. I choose to listen to it and look for the good in the days to come.

All Shall Be Well

is a precious thing
to me

and a little thing:

my life is a little thing,
when it will end here
is God’s secret.

And the world
is a little thing,

like a hazelnut
in his–her hand–
but it is in his everkeeping,
it is in his ever-loving,
it is in his ever-making,

how should anything be amiss?

Yes, all shall be well,
and all will be well,
“and thou shalt see thyself
that all manner of thing
shall be well.”

Kind friends,

I pray God grant you
all your good wishes,
desires, and dreams–

it is all in the choosing,
it is all in the asking.

Yes, all shall be well,
and all will be well,
“and thou shalt see thyself
that all manner of thing
shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich
Ca. 1342-1425

My sister, my friend

I spent the last 4 days of her life with Jan and kept my promise to be there for her husband and son. She was my best friend – something that we were only able to do once we were both adults. I looked to her for a lot of good counsel, moral support and shared humor. We were lucky to have each other and missing her will be a daily thing.

The take away from this is that having a relationship where everything you need to say has been said and you are completely known to one another is really what it’s all about. I have no regrets when it comes to her and that helps. She is at peace and lives on in my heart.

My beautiful sister