Tag Archives: outdoors

Friday #Fiction 2.1 — Perfect is the Enemy of Good


Although she was not normally a morning person, Claire relished this time of day: dawn, in the “donzerly light” (as she used to call it as a little girl) and watching the sun rise, crest the tops of the baby green leaves on the tallest oaks and poplars by the river and see its climb to the high noon. It’s when she did her best thinking, her only thinking, really. She felt melancholy, but couldn’t understand why. She felt distracted but didn’t know by what. She felt unsettled but everything was in place in her world.

This is a fourth in a series; please go here for the first “chapter”: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/

She unlocked the boathouse door, walked inside, flipped on the light, unlocked the padlock and hoisted up the roller door to let out the barely lit into the darker. She saw her shell, “Claire-ity” sighed and said aloud, “Girl, it has been toooo long, it’s so good to see you.” The water had warmed just enough for single rowers could take out their shells and go it alone. She wouldn’t be alone though, she had her memories with her and the geese and cormorants and fish and frogs, her long-lost friends. Crickets were still chirping outside the boathouse. She turned to grab a dusting cloth from the musty racks and gently wiped down the shell’s periwinkle fiberglas hull.

“Oars first. With the water bottle, check,” she said quietly to herself. “Being off the water for several months, even though you mostly know what you’re doing, does not mean your first time out will be flawless. Perfect is the enemy of good. Perfect is impossible, clarity, yes. Perfect, no.” She said as she lifted the oars out of the rack, signed them out of the log and headed down to the docks, leaving her water bottle behind.

“How many times do I have to forget to learn?!” she whispered to herself. “Just one more time, Master Bruce,” she answered to herself as Michael Caine. She kept walking down the slope to the dock, she had decided that the water bottle would have to wait.

The dock was barely visible, save for the abrupt reflection of the water when it met its sides. Claire had been to the boathouse so many times though that she could walk to that ramp with her eyes closed.

“End of the dock, smoother push-off,” she said gently to herself. “It’s all coming back now…good,” she had learned to be kinder to herself and allow tiny moments of praise when she had figured things out. The concept of self-congratulation was foreign to her. She grew up in a world where adults abdicated their responsibilities to their children to desperately flee their reality. “If no one dies or winds up under the table with a bottle, we have achieved success. Today,” was how she encapsulated her life as a child, teenager and young adult.

The guilt from being unable to fix her mother and perform her father’s bidding to try to fix her mother was just too much at times. It hung around her neck on a 10-pound choker, like a 100-pound iron weight on a 50-pound chain and Claire weighed only 140-pounds so, it held her down from time to time even now, in her late 20s.

She placed her oars at the end of the dock and as she turned, the sun was lighting the sky although she still saw Venus behind her near the moon to the west. “Venus, you beautiful thing! Go to bed!” she shouted at the sky, laughing to herself and startling a heron perched on the water level sign about 12 feet off the shoreline. She jumped when the heron barked at her, “the feeling’s mutual, bird!” she said to the tail of the great gray bird who silently coasted above the water landing on a log floating on the surface.

“Looks like it’ll be a row in the cove today,” she said to herself, taking notice of the debris floating downriver from the recent rains. “Yup. Not going on that with no one else on the water.”

When she approached the shell, she squatted down to make sure the bolts and riggers were still in shape and to inspect for any signs of rust or bugs. A small red spider dropped down from inside the port hole cover on the bow of the boat as if to greet her. “Sorry chap, no free rides today,” she said to the spider and grabbed its web as she gently placed it on another rack. She checked her boat’s position to the other riggers and her riggers to the other hulls and mentally prepared to remove the shell.

On a mental count to three, she squatted back down, straightened her back, leaned in, shuffled her feet out and lifted the shell. Her bow ball tapped into the floor, sending a vibration through the shell and Claire overcorrected, slamming the stern into a rack. Crestfallen, she apologized to the shell and took a few deep breaths saying to herself, “Easy now. Do NOT let this get to you. First time out is always rusty.” She got her bearings straight and smoothly executed a “lower to the waist, water-side down” so she could exit the boat house with the riggers pointing up and down and narrowing her chances at hitting anything else in the boathouse. With the boat in her hands, she looked down and saw her water bottle, again, all by itself. “You will just have to wait,” she said.


The sky was much brighter now and rays of the sun’s telltale white glow were shining above the treetops. She was relieved that she was no longer in the dark. Carrying sculls is one thing, carrying a 25-foot, 31-pound racing shell in the dark was quite another. As she approached the dock, she saw a pair of slings ready and waiting for a shell like a cradle waiting for a baby. She put the boat in the slings and turned back to get her water bottle.

Once on the water, things started to click into place. She felt her muscles ease into their old motions and she thought actively about her form. “Press through the heels, straight back, left hand over right, straight back, square the blade, drop the blade, pull the handles, feather the blade, roll back up, press through the heels …” and on and on. Again and again, taking her to her zone, her place where she was most alive and free from the weight of the world. A fish jumped beside her shell leaving the water in ripples and her scull blades did the same. Down, whoosh, slide, up, back, down, whoosh, slide. She was warming up and felt a bead of sweat under her baseball cap. Her skin was cooled by the gentle breeze her rowing provided. She was at peace.

She decided to practice some balance drills.

Lay back, pull in the handles, hover the blades, hover … hover … skimming and shisshing is okay… shisshing is ok, hover … hover… shish…balaaaaance… hands together… silence! annnnd roll back up to the catch, repeat the drive and hover…. balance … balaaaaaaance… skim… roll back up to the catch…

“This. This is MY happy place,” she said with a mild swelling in her heart, a little tear in her eye and an effortless smile on her face. It had been a long winter for Claire and now it was spring and she was ready to begin anew.

© 2013 Molly Field :: All Rights Reserved.


Thank you.

Next round: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/friday-fiction-2-1-pants-on-fire/


Here is today’s prompt provided by the lovely World’s Worst Moms: “Let your characters work through the old saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” 

That’s it. piece of cake. Cupcake.;)”

Check out the posts from our other Fiction writers today:






Featherfish, Facebook and other things that start with F.


First the featherfish. They hang from a hook on our little pergola on our deck. Here’s a picture of them:

featherfish trio

featherfish trio

I bring them up because I love them. They make me smile. I found them last spring when I went hat shopping with a dear friend at the Eastern Market in D.C. It was a great morning and we had a wonderful time.

“They are made of all natural products,” the Asian vendor said proudly in broken, but enthusiastic English. “Coconut shells, goose feathers, chestnut for the weight,” he added.

“What about the eyes? Those aren’t natural…” I said, smirking at him. The eyes are googly eyes. The kind you can buy in bulk, something like 100 for $.25 at a craft store.

how can you not smile after you look at this? this featherfish is game, for anything. its enthusiasm is contagious.

how can you not smile after you look at this? this featherfish is game, for anything. its enthusiasm is contagious.

“No, you are right, they are not natural,” he said, smiling. I was grateful he knew I was having a little fun with him.

I didn’t care what the price was; I was in love with the featherfish. Three featherfish per line; three boys in my home. Each boy has a fish. I was sold.

“Thirty-five dollars,” he said. I physically balked; I couldn’t help myself. I looked at my friend, she gestured to me to confer with her.

“They like to barter. Tell him twenty. It’s an insult if you don’t barter. If you don’t barter it means you don’t really want the item. Tell him twenty….” she explained. She got where I was coming from. I rolled my eyes at her. Well, not at her, but at the idea that I had to barter over the stinking overpriced featherfish. I turned toward the vendor.

I turned back to my friend.

“Twenty,” she mouthed; eyes wide and glaring with intent.

The vendor was smiling, his arm was outstretched, ready to take the featherfish down and wrap them for purchase.

“Twenty.” I said, half embarrassed.

He smiled. “Twenty five.”

“Deal.” I said. I just wanted it to end and I was psyched. I tried to control my voice, my grin; I loved them. He knew it and he was proud to sell them to me. I’d never seen anything like them and I was enamored. I was like a little girl in a toy store.

He took them down and wrapped them in tissue paper and put them in a brown paper bag. I have since bought a set of featherdogs, and while they’re cute an’ all, they’re nothing like the featherfish. The dogs don’t smile and their noses fell off last winter. So I’ve treated the featherfish with clear sealant so they can withstand the summer’s heat.

They put up with rain, wind gusts and the heat bouncing off our south-facing but shaded (and still mighty hot anyway) deck. These dudes know how to live: they face the wind when it really gets going.

I’m writing about the featherfish because they remind me of what’s actually happening right now. I can see them as I type this. Outside, in the real world. The wind blows and their bodies turn and their tail feathers spin:

Seeing the featherfish makes me smile. I saw an image on Facebook last week from Sadie Nardini Yoga:

(c) cinismoilustrado.com

(c) cinismoilustrado.com

I’m pretty good about the smartphone use; I was much better about it during Lent when I took a break from Facebook. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me in a while and I don’t want to lose that edge.

I’ve made a decision and it’s no big deal to anyone but me, but it means a lot to me. It means I’ve reached another milestone in my writerly life and that I’ve finally reconciled something: I’m pulling the plug on the Facebook fan page that “shamelessly plugs my blog”; it’s not for me. Never has been; it never was my style. I did it to keep up with an unhealthy trend: trying to be something I’m not. Trying to fit in. Trying to keep up with everyone else.

I want — SO MUCH — to live the life I have; to have boots on the ground; to get dirt under my nails; to write; to sing; to paint; to draw; to bend; to run; to row; and to dream, that I’m done trying to be a showman on that page. I don’t have it in me; I never did and I’m finally doing something about it. I’ve hung up the cloak of someone else’s ambition and put on my own. I am almost fiercely protective of my time now; the last thing I want to do — with all due respect to any fan out there who liked my page and was a dedicated fan — is look for things pictures for fans to share to bring more traffic to my page. And with Facebook’s new algorithm, no one is seeing anything I post — I’m talking 25 out of 472 “fans.” So if you come here from there, you have two options: subscribe to my blog from here or “subscribe” to me on Facebook proper (https://www.facebook.com/molly.t.field?ref=tn_tnmn) where you can see what I upload publicly.

What I noticed the most, is that the really neat things I enjoyed seeing and sharing: nature photos, amazing architecture, astronomy images and other really cool stuff got almost no traffic, no Likes; but the more sarcastic I was, the nastier I was, the more snarky I was, the more traffic I saw. An image I shared right before Thanksgiving, got SO much traffic, I “gained” 40 fans in a weekend. It was shared 28 times.

this. it's funny / shocking, but it's not me. i can't spend time looking for stuff like this all the time... so i won't.

this. it’s funny / shocking, but it’s not me. i can’t spend time looking for stuff like this all the time… so i won’t.

I laughed privately to a good friend, saying, “the poor bastards…. they’re gonna expect more of that and I’m gonna hit ’em with Dorothy Parker quotes or images from National Geographic or Eagle nebulas from the Hubble telescope…” and sure enough: as soon as I did, as soon as I reverted back to my taste and my interests, I lost about 12 “fans.”

It’s ok. But faking it has been stupid and exhausting. I don’t want to care about that page anymore, so I’m not; it’s also hard on me to see that it’s sinking and there’s nothing I can do. The bottom line: I’m trying to spend less time online, not more. Want some irony? The post announcing my page’s shut down has seen 226 views. That is the most ever of anything I’ve ever posted since Facebook started sharing view counts.

Thank you.

Three Things Thursday 5 — Water: Boathouse, Beauty and Breathing



I started a post detailing and lamenting my situation with my parents, their ambitions to age in place, and their requests for consults and professionals (which I delivered) despite their patent and wholesale inaction, and total avoidance of meaningful change to make any of it possible. You can’t make a fish climb a tree. The gist of the post was about need for boundaries and how they help everything, which they do, but it was too much and I am too close to the subject matter to make it digestible. Let’s just say this: it’s FUBAR.

There’s nothing more I can do for them short of apoplexy-inducing betrayal, so I won’t do anything until they do, and that’s highly unlikely. We will have to stay in crisis-reactive mode as we resigned ourselves to be four years ago. For me to turn myself inside out to help them simply because of a sense of guilt is futile, ego-driven, vain and “fixer”-istic: unhealthy. Consider this: I would be doing & wanting more than they would to improve their situation. That’s toxic.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, by the amazing Marcus Aurelius is this: “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”


The good news is that writing the-post-you-will-never-see was excellent catharsis. The bad news is that it kept me up until 2am. I’m ok though. But the birds are chirping outside, the sun is shining and so I am reframing: taking back my brain and changing gears.

Three things for our mind, body and soul. This is really simple and it has nothing to do with aging.

Mind: Boathouses

Rowing season has begun and I’m thrilled to be making a daily trek back to the boathouse to drive my oldest son and up to six of his teammates for practice. They are chatty, funny, smart and polite kids. Their parents should be proud because they’re doing an excellent job raising their children.

Yes, it’s cold as butt, yes. Last week, ice was forming on the hull (body) of the shells (boats) and the wind chills were likely insane, but rowers are insane and my son is thrilled to be back on the water despite his shivering when he returns home. The other night, we had 2″-4″ of rain fall during 38˚ temps and 20mph winds. He came home a boysicle, but he had a huge grin on his face. That’s all that matters. When we got to the boathouse yesterday, it was 15˚ warmer than the day before and the sun was sort of out. This kind of change in the weather enhances the mindset when you’re in the boat to such a degree that the difference can be as apparent as walking compared to crawling.

For me: it’s being back down there, if only for a moment to look down at this and know soon, I too will be back in my racing shell and sculling toward peace; leaving the bipeds and their noise behind.


this is my ride.

View from the Bow

this is a view from the Bow

Body: Breathing

So the sun was out yesterday and I went for a nice long walk with The Murph around the ponds after dropping the boys at school.

I used the “panorama” option on my phone to take this. I love the reflection so much. What a glorious morning.

My breathing intensified, my legs warmed up and so did my core. I actually had to unzip my parka, despite the 37˚ outside. I felt alive and “OK” — you know, peaceful, for the first time in a while. I almost wanted to run. I haven’t been able to do this very often because the kids being home. The walk did me some good because I was able to appreciate the …

Soul: Beauty

Of our physical world. No matter where you live: in the mountains or in a city; on the water or on a suburban street: there is beauty everywhere. And this time of year, the days are getting longer, the grass is turning green, trees are starting to bud, and the daffodils are coming up beside their friends the tulips. I saw some totally new ducks at one of the ponds — two pairs of these, they’re called “Hooded Merganser” ducks:

This one apparently has something to say. I will try to get my own pictures of them. I will have to go without The Murph because he scares them. from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/hoodmerg_gregschn.jpg

Isn’t this gorgeous? He was with his wife (male birds are hotter and all birds are monogamous) and another Merganser couple along with some Mallards and Canada Geese. It was really glorious to behold them all. Just doing their thing, y’know: being waterfowl. So, no matter where you live, establish some personal boundaries to take back your space and time for yourself first and get out and breathe to take in the beauty. No matter where you look, it’s there waiting to be appreciated.

I guess the underlying theme is water today. Go drink some, look at it and get in it if you can.

Thank you.

Tuesday Morning Press #3 – Zip Lines of Life


Ok, Tuesday Morning Press #3 here. The rule for this post is there are no rules, except that I really can’t edit much other than ridiculous typos and phrases that make no sense. It’s all off the cuff – if I go astray, I need to get myself back on track.

So I’ve got less than my usual hour here because I walked with a friend back toward her house after dropping the kids and then I made the fatal error of staring at the sun come through the trees and then I went on facebook, which in the chronology of fatal errors was only #3, but in the aspect of its time suckage, was like error number -289.

I went on a field trip with Thing 2 yesterday. He is 11 and an apple of a child: heart-shaped face, copper eyes and a smile that sends a smile along my spine. He is tempestuous, smart and occasionally insecure and was genuinely T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D I was along on the trip.

Here’s the thing I don’t seem to have happening in my life yet: my kids aren’t embarrassed of me. They actually like me being around them and their friends. They want me to meet their friends. As in last Friday Thing 1 went to a couple social events at school which was so great for him and I was so excited for him that I wasn’t going to do what I wanted to do: stalk him and hang around. I didn’t do this because he’s got 1) a great head on his shoulders and isn’t easily swayed by moronic peer-pressure behavior … YET, and 2) I really wanted to sit on my butt at home on my couch and watch “Law & Order” reruns.

Before we went he said, “Come with me, you can meet Javier and Katarina and Hagar” and I loudly thought, “WHAT?! when I was your age I wanted to hide my mother in a laundry bin and feed her sunlight through a tube.” But I didn’t say that… I said, “No, thanks though! I will meet them another time… this is your time…” and he sorta looked downcast. Did I blow it? He ended up staying later for the game, which was great, but I didn’t make any plans to meet anyone there so I went home. Because he went and stayed, he was invited to a “we aren’t going to homecoming so we’re just gonna have a party instead” party at a friend’s house the next night and HE WENT! The parents were home and we called to see if there was anything we could bring… (hint: do this – your kids can’t get all ruffled when you offer to do what any normal guest would do – and you get to chat with the parents about the plans for the event and get a feel for the vibe). He had a nice time and is generally pleased with himself that he opened his social windows a bit.

This was supposed to be about my other son’s field trip. Get back on track… 40 minutes to go…

So this field trip was at a place called “Camp Hemlock” or “Hemlock Camp” or “Camp Camp” – I can’t remember but it doesn’t matter. The entire campground is all about problem solving and team work. This experience excelled for the kids by way of having them solve physically and mentally challenging exercises and experiences to arrive at a team conclusion where everyone wins. Think of it like “Survivor” for kids and within a six-hour timeframe. T2’s team, like all the others, was about 13-kids large and it seemed random enough to me until I noticed some of the teams were all the jocks and then all the smarties and then the kiddos who are normally normal: fit in everywhere and nowhere. The middle zone.

So much for stretching our envelopes. ANYway…

The duty of the chaperones was quite simple: 1) stay off your phones, 2) don’t assist the kids, 3) make sure rocks stay on the ground and branches stay off the path. That was A-OK with me. I had a great time with our other chaperone; I have known this person from very cheap seats for a few years as our kids have been in and out with the same teachers for a few years but I got to know her on a level that was almost cosmic and almost fate-granted. (Well, all of life is fate-granted –even the stuff we don’t like– we just have to be willing to accept it as such.) I made a new friend who is quite funny, has her own stories of how life has shaped her and we felt safe with each other. The best part of chaperoning: when you think you’re the only one who has a seven-fingered great uncle grandmother who ate pickled chocolate babies using a grapefruit spoon out of a beer stein while dressed in a Groucho Marx suit sitting in a chaise lounge atop the widow’s walk of the family compound’s main manor overlooking the Galapagos: you’re not alone. Everyone’s got a story.

The best part of the field trip was undoubtedly the zip line. To get to it after we donned our super sexy climber’s helmet and bladder tickling climbing harness we had to scale a 12′ rail-less stepladder and then get buckled in to more gear that somehow makes you feel like you could swing from a flaming helicopter as Tom Cruise’s next stand-in (he’d have to grow out his hair for me because there’s no way I’m cutting mine) in his next fairy-tale inspired action flick: “Rapunzel and the Pусская мафия (Russian Mob)” or the working title: “Blonds Prefer Death.”

Brave boy. My love: Thing 2 walking like a squirrel 15′ above the ground.

Then we walked across a tight-wire which started at 10′ off the ground but ended up about 15′ and then the zip line which began above a precipitous drop into a valley which sank to about 75′-80′ below the line, but the line is horizontal, it doesn’t drop. So I got across, got strapped into more lines and other gear and then sat down on the ledge above the valley and nudged myself into the abyss. Despite the description of the cables being the same as those used on aircraft carriers to stop jets when they land, I still thought for less than a second: “this shit’s gonna break and I’m gonna bounce off that bank and roll into that valley” but I was overcome with wonderful confidence because 11 little kids, including my own son, had vaulted themselves into this ride and I went for it.

What happened next was just… SUPERAWESOMEGREAT. I was flying! Free and fast and by the time I screamed “I LOVE YOU THING 2!” it was over. Eight seconds max and I was at the other end, my knees bent and my heels were instinctively ready to absorb the expected impact of landing on the ground. “OH MAN! AGAIN! AGAIN!” is what I said. It was exhilarating. What do I want to do next? I think I’m ready for another ride. Maybe base jumping?

The trainer we worked with yesterday asked his team to come up with a movie which best described the day. For me, it was like “Steel Magnolias” because I made a friend and I just grabbed what the day had given me by the horns and didn’t look back. We have to do that for ourselves every once in a while: push our own envelopes because then we are freer, just a little bit.

Thank you.