Dream, a pet peeve, and a look back

Sunflower is Paris Collage Collective image this week

I dreamt about Michelle Slater this morning. She lives in an apartment below me, not in NYC but in Pittsfield near Berkshire Medical Center (where I really lived once).

She has the coolest composting device in her kitchen sink. It’s miraculous, really, but in the dream it is just elegantly ahead of its time. It’s a small deciduous tree attached to the faucet that both gathers and converts waste in a single rotation. Think: bonsai with a mission.

She is leaving the apartment, not sure why or where she plans to go. When I look out the window, I’m surprised to find she lives on the ground floor and not above me on the fourth as I had supposed.

Later, I’m at a gathering and leaning on Hillary Clinton’s shoulder, who sits in the row in front of me. Just like on a zoom call, the stage is lined with bookcases, but instead of the speaker’s most recent book propped up for viewing, a variety of my small quilts are on display.

In writing circles they say, tell a dream, lose a reader. Did I lose you?

Today I’m traveling to a writer’s retreat in Central Mass. aka the Connecticut River Valley. People consistently mislabel this area the Berkshires. It is not. I was born in the Berkshires and lived in three (or 4 or 5? too tedious to count) (it’s 5) different places there. Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?

Central Mass from retreat patio

I’ve been to this retreat twice before and it is heaven. The food, the views, the quality of leadership, and the writing. Just a treat all round!

The last time I went was in 2019 — before covid. I took a look back and was shocked to see how much I did that year. Life will never be like that again. Just for kicks, here’s the list.

My sister died in March and in less than a month we cleared out her apartment and went to Rome in April. I stayed on in Assisi for two weeks. In May we went to Denver. In June I did the weeklong training to become an AWA facilitator (local but still). In July we went to the Catskills and Schenectady and I also spent a couple days on the Cape in Wellfleet. August found K and me in Rockport for a spell and then I attended this very writing retreat (in Central Mass).

Visitors: friends Maggie and Deb Lacativa came. Son #2 stayed a week to do his EMT training and then both boys were here for Christmas (that was the last time we gathered here as a family).

This year I’ve been to Aspen, LA (aka my brother’s house), Rockport, and soon, Central Mass. Next month, we’re going to Quebec for a few days. And in November, I’ll be spending a week on a Civil Rights tour in Mississippi and Alabama. (When I write it all down, it begins to seem like a lot?)

Coming on retreat with me: footstool and heating pad, Tylenol and Voltaran. A collapsible soccer-mom chair. All to minimize or treat back pain. Talk about passing time!

16 thoughts on “Dream, a pet peeve, and a look back

  1. Liz A

    so of course I start humming Sweet Baby James … another Berkshires peeve?

    this series of collages resonates with me … I don’t have the words, but I like the feeling

  2. Marti

    Dreams, past activities and through it all, I am struck by the image of sunflowers and how they pivot to face the sun. Sunflowers are symbolic for me in terms of how when life presents the unexpected, we do well to mimic their motion, pivot to seek the light that will guide us…

    What a full few months you have planned and all culminating in ways to enrich yourself and in ways that you will enrich others.

    I’ve been thinking of you and your book because I am almost finished with reading Joyce Maynard’s latest work, The Bird Hotel. It is set in an imagined place in Guatemala, but the author has lived, part time, in such a place for the past twenty years, hosting a writers memoir workshop, Write by the Lake, in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

    When she went to sell this book, she an established author, met resistance for her book was considered to be “appropriative”. How could a non-indigenous, “non LatinX” writer, write about the world which was not her place. Maynard replied to this trend of cultural appropriation in the afterword of her book::

    “to me this trend does not simply relegate a writer to the narrow box of her own cultural background and heritage but most egregiously, it limits the very quality that stands at the center of good fiction: imagination, invention, curiosity about the world beyond one’s own…Let us never forget that it is the job of the writer to imagine lives beyond herself. The challenge of each of us is to do it believably and within a manner that respects the heritage of all.”

    I read a lot of culturally appropriate authors and I read a lot of authors who have the courage to respectfully imagine worlds not of their own. After a while you get a sense of the integrity of the author…so this is all by way of saying Dee, that when your book is published, I will be so happy to own a copy.

  3. Nancy

    Wow, some list! To me it sounds like 2023 will be a very close second to 2019. I can understand the difference in what you are packing this time around. I sure wish “Voltaran” worked for me (us). It doesn’t and the strong smell makes me sick to my stomach. sigh. I did give in and took some pain meds last night as my bad-left knee has been barking for well over a week now. sigh.
    You did not loose me with your dream! I dreamt of Michelle last night to, which you reminded me of with your bolded sentence. I can’t recall any details, just the good feeling of her being there. I love when I can recall all of the wild, not-making-sense elements of a dream…the way you can go from above to ground floor in the blink of an eye. Dreams are magical that way.
    Great Sunflower collages 🙂
    Have a fun time ‘away’

    1. deemallon Post author

      I can’t believe you dreamt of Michelle too!

      I was surprised to see how 2023 is shaping up because I continue to feel quite House bound.

      Voltaran works wonders for my hands (not back or hips) and you make me realize that I ought to ask others if the smell bothers them. It’s very pungent.

  4. deb

    I love finding dream passages or descriptions in fiction. It’s like experiencing the dreamer’s life through a kaleidoscope. I have also dreamed of Michelle, but it was just her voice, or the voice I assigned her. When I was still working until midnight and beyond, she kept me company in fb chat. Many, many conversations.

  5. Hazel

    Love with the third image- golden, cherries, moon- it feels like sanctuary.
    Your dream, too. Mine are so full of fear and murder. I hope the retreat continues to hold heaven for you.

  6. Deb G

    I’ve never heard that about dreams, I have about weather though…although I think that is different now. I wish I remembered more of my dreams, I rarely am even aware of dreaming.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Too much weather is a drag. I had to search “clouds” in my novel and get rid of half the mentions. Dear Eliza was perpetually talking about them.


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