“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, October 16, 2023

Welcome to The Porch

 I asked the group of six that had been meeting weekly under the Maple if they wanted to continue. They told me they would continue whether I recorded their meetings or not. They were doing it for themselves, and if recording their conversations would be entertaining or informative to others, so be it.


They kicked my butt and told me to keep going, not to bore people but to trust that recording their conversations was valuable. But they were going to let’er rip and forget that I am listening.


So let the tape roll…


Last Tuesday:



Hot spinach dip in a fondue pot on the table, chips to dip. Drinks available.


Shal came through the gate, grinning a big Cheshire cat grin.


“Well, Hello, Shal,” said Ollie, standing from her chair and waving him in. “You look happy.”


“I am.” He hopped onto the porch where the group had moved from the maple tree, poured himself a hot cup of coffee, and said, “Hi, everybody. Ollie, I like your porch, and that it is enclosed on three sides, and with that patio heater, it will keep us comfy until December. And I believe that tree standing in your yard is still our protector and observer.” He gives a salute.


“Yep, fall fell this week. The rains came, the lawns turned green, and the fields are so brilliant they glisten when the sun hits them.”




“Shal,” said Twinkie, “what do you have up your sleeve? You look like you hit a jackpot.”


“I did. I’m going to be a papa.”


“Really? Shal, that’s wonderful.” Ollie moved around the table to give him a hug. The others gather around, shaking hands, hugging, and slapping him on the back.


“We were about ready to go to a fertility specialist.” He paced, too excited to sit or maybe nervous about telling his friends something so close to his heart. “We wanted to be pregnant by the time Allison was 35—missed it by a year. She’s 36 now. I’m 40, and we’re a little tenuous about telling people, wanting to ensure the pregnancy sticks. But I couldn’t wait to tell you guys.”


“Isn’t it fascinating,” said Ollie, “that this happened after you began meditating?”


“Oh my gosh, that’s right. I have been meditating still, for Allison said I was calmer and more at peace when I meditated. Oh, this fascinates me. I had not put it together. I thought something else caused a pregnancy.” 


The group laughs.


“How’s Allison going to manage?” Ollie asks. “She’s a Physician’s Assistant. I know she loves her job.”


“I might become a house husband, well, not all the time. Allison said she didn’t wait all this time for a baby, only to let me raise it, so we are working it out. She will work a couple days a week, I will go part-time. I can do that with my job, and we’ll share.”


“I’m glad you guys have that option,” said Sally. “I’m happy for you.”


“Oh, I had qualms about bringing a child into the world, after that Covid thing, and the lock down, the school shootings and all that. But Allison said that a baby is evidence that the world will continue. So, I’m accepting that. We’ll home school if need be. Maybe that child chose to come in now, who knows what plan he or she has up that little baby sleeve of hers, his, whatever.”


“You are the shot of joy we needed, Shal.” When we have a joyful moment, it magnetizes more joy. It builds. And what is more joyful than new life? 


‘I love watching babies giggle, blow bubbles, and kick their feet like those feet were the best invention ever. I’ll babysit so Mom and Dad can have a date night. You’re making me want to go out and get a puppy.”


“Old Laffe there might object,” Shal looked at Ollie’s dog asleep under the table where Ollie had placed a large rug that gave him plenty of room and the others a warm floor if they wanted to take off their shoes.


“Maybe it would give him a longevity shot.”


“You know,” says Ollie, “all these things, babies, puppies, make our life more fun, and you know that ‘Neurons that fire together wire together.’ And that applies to experiences, learning, and mind talk. It fixes them into the brain.”


“Up with brain juice,” says Twinkie. “By the way folks, Alan kissed me.”


“Twinkie, really?” said Ollie, somewhat concerned that he was taking advantage of a love-struck girl.


“Yep, really. I think he means it.” He told me he tries not to get involved with a student. I guess it’s somewhat like the student falls in love with the teacher, and the teacher should not take advantage of that. Last Saturday, as we were taking a break from the hot room with that blazing kiln, we walked into the forest behind his studio and down a path there. When we came to a fallen log, we sat on it and talked. He had a problem with my name, Twinkie. ‘You are not a Bimbo,” he said. “You are the most UP girl I have ever met.”  


“’You can call me Shirley, my given name, if you want,’ I said.”


 “‘How about Twink? That suits your lightness,’ he said. 


 “And not as fattening as a Twinkie,’ I said. He laughed and fell silent. We held hands for a while just sitting there. It was not an uncomfortable silence, but my nerves were a wreck. I thought I was going to die of longing. And then he turned and kissed me.”


“So cool,” said Sally, bursting into tears, shocking everyone.”


…to be continued



P.S. You can find all the conversations on Substack, plus a little extra in between. 


Jewell D's Substack