Writer’s laryngitis



Writer’s laryngitis and its related condition, bloggingitis, is a painful loss of a writer’s voice, which if left untreated can lead to chronic guilt, shame, and increasingly lame excuses.



The ailment results in an uncontrollable urge to erase words on paper or hit the delete button on a computer; a stuffed up wastebasket, oozing over with crumpled papers; and complete avoidance of blogging sites, Most cases develop into a full-blown allergy to all forms of written expression.

Courtesy Pink Sherbet Photography: D Sharon Pruitt

Courtesy Pink Sherbet Photography: D Sharon Pruitt


Most of the time, writer’s laryngitis is caused by unhealthy amounts of latent procrastination in the writer’s blood. Other times an underlying cause is narrowing of the imagination, which reduces the flow of ideas, until they are completely obstructed. Some experts, such as Dr. Frye of the Americans Who Do Research Group, and his rival Dr. Frye of the French Who Do Too Group, are currently researching the causes. The American Frye contends there is a  a link to tube tuber tubby syndrome, what is commonly known as couch potato disorder. However, the French Frye considers this a half-baked idea.


Risk factors and complications

In mild cases, patients have an idea but cannot find the right word and so give up. Eventually they cannot find the left word, either, or even the ones in the middle. In severe cases the patient can do little more than stare at blank screens or blank notebooks. In some cases, sufferers find they cannot string more than two or three words together on a thread of thought.

Prolonged loss of voice can lead to linguistic atrophy, flaccid brain syndrome, and over-consumption of dark chocolate. If flaccid brain syndrome is not treated, the patient may become inert, find it impossible to get up off the couch, or even change the channel.


Treatment and drugs

There is currently no known medically approved treatment, but of course, there are drugs.

Spontaneous return of voice happens in some cases when the writer gets a new spirit, such as red wine. Other times, the cure comes by way of a talisman. Some writers swear by their lucky underwear, but may suffer a recurrence of the condition when the underwear is in the wash. Failure to wash the underwear can lead to social isolation, a leading cause of inviting too many cats into the home. Others have reported success by spitting into the wind three times on a Tuesday or writing blindfolded. No one treatment has proved efficacious for all cases.

Danger of Contagion

Writer’s laryngitis is not contagious, but it is highly annoying for people around the sufferer who are subjected to excessive sighing, whining, complaining, excuse-making, to say nothing of the need to do all of the channel changing.

Phases of the moon


Once I was a new moon, unseen, hidden in the dark universe of my mother’s womb. As she fed on the sun, swallowing sunlight silently gathered by plants, I grew into a small sliver of a crescent moon – a mere curl of the girl I would be.


Waxing day by day, more of me could be seen – small hands, feet, and face slowly revealed from the soft tissue, while the bones, pliable as new twigs, lengthened. Mother hid her lunate shape until I increased and she felt my orbit. When I reached the first quarter phase, her belly mirrored me.


For some length of days, I waxed gibbous within and her universe expanded. She knew my time would come soon.


When she could eat no more light, I shone through her, a full moon making my own self visible.


We women belong to the moon, following her cycle through the sky, waxing and waning through our lives. In this way the world is born again and again.


I have waxed full in my spin around the world, and despite an empty universe of a womb, I have had two full moons orbit my life.


Now I wane, and this phase – my last quarter – is almost spent.


Once I was full of light, but now so much is hidden. I follow the path forward, shrinking my way home in the dark night under the starshine, In the early morning hours, curled upon my bed, a small crescent shape beneath the covers, I wait and wonder about that final phase when I am too new to be seen.




Photos courtesy of Jay Tanner on Creative Commons

Waxing crescent: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-040.jpg
First quarter: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-088.jpg
 Waxing gibbous: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-134.jpg
 Full moon: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-168.jpg
 Waning gibbous: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-224.jpg
 Last quarter: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-265.jpg
Waning crescent:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phase-327.jpg

Mother’s Day: In praise of benign neglect



My mother breathed for me until I could breathe on my own, though apparently after I reluctantly squeezed through the channel into the outside world, I needed a slap on the bottom to start doing things on my own. This was to be a recurring pattern in my childhood.



Forcing me to breathe on my own was the first of mother’s insistence that I take responsibility for myself; she had her own life to live. Her job was to carry me through babyhood into childhood, where I could fend for myself.


She did her best: training me to sleep through the night by adding a bit of coffee to my bottle to keep me awake during the day, having me inoculated for the diseases she could and nursing me through the ones she couldn’t, teaching me to eat solid foods, introducing me to boxed cereal, dressing and shoeing me until I could make bizarre clothing choices on my own, and drilling in the necessity to shut the door when I went outside.


The trauma of getting me through my early years and up to the door-closing phase caused mother to forget the circumstances surrounding my birth, so the door drill was always accompanied by the question, “Were you born in a barn?” For all I knew or remembered I was, so if she couldn’t remember for me, how was I to know?


By the time I was four or five, I was free to leave home. I knew where the sugar-coated cereal was, and I knew that one coat was never enough; so after making sure the cereal was adequately dressed, I would eat my fill, find a mismatched pair of shorts and top, and go outside.


Childhood, I learned, took place outside. When adults were awake and in the house, we were told to go outside and play. Mother’s interest in what went on outside the house was limited to injuries involving a lot of blood, my own or others (if I were the cause of the blood-letting.) Other than that, I was free to roam around, engage in rock fights, create plays with my sister in the backyard, ride my bike around the neighborhood, experiment with smoking, set fires, and reassign the neighbors’ mail by taking it from one person’s mailbox and putting it in another’s.


For my major crimes, I was caught and punished, which kept me from careers in smoking, arson, and mail fraud. For the rest, I lived a life of my own choosing, a life largely unknown to my mother, as hers was to me.


Mother never felt the need to entertain me, hover over me, or know what I was up to. I discovered most of the world on my own – learned how to make and break alliances, how to climb a tree and watch the world, where to hide when I didn’t want to be found, how far I could go without losing my way, and when to come home.


Like so many mothers of that era, mother left me on my own for much of the time. I think of it as benign neglect, but it was really the freedom to find my way. I’m still doing that – finding my way, still making mistakes, and still watching the world.


Next month will be ten years since mother last breathed. Had I been able to breathe for her and keep her longer, I would have gladly done so. But that is something only the mother can do for the child.


Today, on Mother’s Day, I want to breathe life back into her memory and thank her for telling me to get out of the house, shut the door behind me, and go outside so I could discover the world on my own.

Spring is supposed to be the season when feathered hope sings



Spring is supposed to be the season when feathered hope sings, yet the mother was alone with six little ones to care for. All of the responsibility for food and shelter rested on her. She found a small place not far from where I live, barely big enough for one, yet they all squeezed in. It was little more than a place to sleep, but it sheltered them. It would be easy to judge her for leaving the little ones alone when she went out looking for food. She always waited until dark and stole most of it from the neighbors.



A female alone at night has to think about personal safety. She did, but care for her offspring compelled her to take chances.



She managed, at least for a while. Two weeks or so ago, she didn’t come home. The six she left behind waited, used to her absences, yet confident she would return. She never did.



Then several days ago the last of the snow melted, and the half-past-cool of the thermometer lured my grandchild and me outside to pull up the dead plants in the garden box. Tugging the skeletal remains of last year’s petunias unearthed tufts of gray and white rabbit hair mixed with cut grass placed carefully over a small indentation in the earth. When we began to move away the hair and grass, we uncovered six small but perfectly formed bunnies nestled together. In spite of the carefully built nest, not one was alive.



Their fur-covered skin showed they were at least eight days old; a week later they could have left the nest and started eating the remaining plants in my garden like their mother.



I laid out their small bodies on the dirt; and the two of us, grandchild and a grandmother, marveled at the grandeur before us. Such exquisite beauty hidden beneath the weeds. Life buried, created to rise up and live. All around us, life busied herself, greening the grass, sending up worms for the fat robins to tug out of the ground; and at our feet, death.



Last summer at the petting zoo, the two of us spent a good amount of time holding bunnies, feeling their hearts beat rapid and strong against our hands, like small drums calling us to dance, to breathe, and to embrace the sky. In the growing cold of this day though, no drumbeats were heard, only the grandchild wailing for the music that should have been.



I could offer no comfort; we each must face this horror alone. Death attends every banquet life throws. We don’t always see her, but she’s there; and when you least expect it, she shows her gaunt face and stares at you with those eyes. Like black holes in space, you feel their power to draw you in, sense the pull of that ravenous hunger, intent on swallowing up the world. What can you do except wail?



After I gathered up the grass and tufts of hair, plucked by the mother from her own body, I placed them in a small bag. Then I gently laid the kits, as bunnies are also called, and put them in the garage. It was a small concession to the child, who believed that if we kept them, they would forever remain as they were in death.



This stubborn hope of the child made my heart ache and at the same time strangely comforted me. We are creatures of hope, living in a world of unspeakable wonder. And this stubborn hope is the ancient hope, as ancient as spring itself.


Winter is that boy your mother warned you about


You know the one that can’t keep his hands off you. Always trying to touch your bare skin. Winter always goes too far; you can ask him to stop, but he never will.


He’s like that wild boy in high school that spent all his time trying to be cool. Every minute of every day, as if being cool was all that mattered.



Sure, he brings you lovely presents, like that a line of snow-covered trees glittering in the sun, pretty as a rhinestone bracelet. But he’s cold-hearted and time after time leaves you out in the cold.


He likes to keep you guessing. One day he’ll warm up to you a bit, and the next day he’s standing in the street, shouting sleet at you, wearing that white muscle T-shirt and pushing you around.


He’ll chase you in and out of buildings; stalking you and moaning like a lovesick calf.


The relationship seemed so charming in the beginning when he would throw down that sparkly white carpet every time you walked out the door. For the holidays, he filled the sky with confetti, and you loved it. These last few months, though, you’ve been living in denial, telling yourself you can get used to it. But you can’t.


Winter has a cold and bitter heart. He thinks that pinching your cheeks and fingertips so hard you almost cry is acceptable. If you’re not careful, you’ll start believing that his behavior is normal. That, my friend, is a slippery slope to slide down.


When you finally tell him to get lost, he will wait on your porch every morning and blast you when you walk out the door. And as if that weren’t enough harassment, at night he’ll come by and rattle your windows, huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf that he is.


Fool that you are, you think you can reason with him. You decide on a date that he will move on and out of your life. You get out your calendar and circle the day, embellishing it with flowers, hearts, and butterflies. (I really don’t know what your mother would say about that.)


Then on the very day marked for his departure, he shows up at your door, stomping his boots and flashing his icy blue eyes, as if to say, you are mine forever. Then he points to the trees he has decorated, and you have to slam the door shut because as mean as he is, he really is a great decorator.


Me? I’m done with him. One of us has got to get out of town. If he’s not gone by the end of April, I’m going to have to leave or get some counseling.


Click the links to find the photographers: 
Snow pond   Firs   Rime






Carried by hands


Hand Reaching

She comes out to greet me in the waiting room. I haven’t been waiting long. It is at day’s end and my work is finished. During the wait, I scratch in my final words to tell her what I need. I will not need to speak anymore.

She leads me into the room. In the dim light I notice only the table and chair. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she says. I leave all of my clothes on the chair and wall hook; then I crawl under the covers and wait for the knock.

I lie on my stomach, my face cradled in the open circle at the top of the table. She turns on music, soft flutes and ocean waves.

I yield to her hands, oiled and searching. She finds my pain. Some aches I knew I carried; others lie hidden, deep within me. She seeks them out – knots of worry, muscles clenched, holding their breath. She forces them to breathe.


The pain cannot leave me until I feel it. Worry, long-forgotten deadlines, and anger hide within, cling to my bones. Her hands draw them out.

She murmurs and I turn, eyes closed, heart and mind still. Inside this room, I am outside my life, an in-between place.

I arrived once just as I am now, unclothed, at the mercy of hands. My leaving will be like this. An angel will prepare me for the crossing over. Her hands will find my hurt and pain and carry it away. I have swallowed darkness and sorrow; it clings to my bones. But it will yield to those hands.

We shall not speak; my words, as they are now, will be left there in the waiting room.

Then she will push my barge into the waters and the music will carry me across. And there will be hands, familiar hands, waiting on that other side.

Grand Teton National Park

Back massage photo courtesy of Nick Webb   

Wild horses could drag me away


Female_horse-champ_Kitty_Canutt_(1919)_by_unknownThe spoken language is a herd/heard of wild mustangs, thundering through the mouths of millions of speakers who ride the nearest horse at hand. And because they’re wild, you see and hear fights breaking out between verbs and subjects who are never going to agree this side of Wichita, Texas, so you may as well get used to it. Wild horses don’t care if the verb and subject agree; in fact, it doesn’t take much to pit one against another as they rush through the air straight into your ear. Listen now and you’ll hear them stampeding by, saying, “My brother and his family from Illinois lives just down the street.” And if pronouns concern you, you may as well start wearing earplugs or walk around with your fingers in your ears because I guarantee some horse-whipping fool is going to tell you a secret and warn you not to tell anybody because it is “between you and I.”


The written language, on the other hand, is a corral of horses, tame or almost so, taught to let the writer/rider hogtie other people’s minds and hearts, just so the horse whisperer can win the rodeo, even if there’s only a few people in attendance. Once you fall in love with horses, you can’t do anything else. After you make a few of them eat out of your hand, they own you, and you spend the rest of your life lying in wait in cold canyons biding your time until some of those wild mustangs stop to eat; then you lasso as many as you can and take them home.


It’s a cold and lonely business, and it’s not always pretty. Their hooves are sharp and they can leave you bloodied, dirty, and discouraged. Not a few can jump any fence you can build. But sometimes, just sometimes, you pick yourself up from the ground for the one-hundredth time, ready to quit and swear off horses, but you don’t. You dust yourself off, climb back on, and the horse lets you stay. When that happens, nothing else matters. It’s just you and the horse, and you feel like you can ride forever.