Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nancy's Poppy

Blink away tears
 take a swipe

 the wetness blinds you
 blurring hope
laying close by
all in a heap

waiting for you 
to pick it up
 shake it out
smooth the wrinkles

 put it on
keep it there 
till spring thaw

it belongs on
wear it
 button it up 
close under your chin  
warm the wintery
ache inside

ideas will hatch 
incubated so
nurse them 
tend to them
feed them hearty
watch their 
colorful heads pop
open and out

Nancy took an amazing picture of a poppy, half bursting it's cap. The exuberance in its posture, and the colors, reached out to me through the screen. It prompted this poem. Check her picture and poem out. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

They Said Yes

 Zechariah laughed before stuttering yes nine months later. 
 Elizabeth's baby boy kicked yes hard against her surprise.   
Trembling, Mary opened her life to yes.
Embarrassed, Joseph embraced yes. 
The wise men mapped yes by traveling far. 
The shepherds nodded yes as they followed the star. 
The angel chorus sang in unison yes.
 John the Baptist almost missed saying yes. 
The disciples lost everything by saying yes. 
Judas kissed yes as a trick. 
The thief died sighing yes. 
Mary listened yes while being. 
The Magdalene's perfume spilled yes across history. 
The Samaritan woman nodded yes to living water.
Peter's yes collapsed before becoming rock hard.
    Zacchaeus opened his home with a yes. 
Paul's yes restored his vision. 
The bleeding woman secretly touched yes.
Yes to mud and spit cured the blind man's eyes. 
Lazarus wept yes as he untangled death.  
The children smiled and nuzzled yes on his lap.
He breathed yes when he left home to show us Love. 
What they said, I say.
Especially the Magdalene's. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eating Words

Careless words
could be made useful
if fed 
to shredder who'll
 grind and chew
redeem as
confetti for compost
like straw into gold

Instead they hide
disguised politely
as folded innocence
a lotus blossom
perhaps a fan
decorating table  
placed pretty and polite
waiting at the ready 
to catch
embarrassing drip

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tribute to a Teacher

His name unknown
demeanor humble
a teacher
simply offering
one track of time
 traveling deeper 

deeper into silence
for deeper understanding
towards deeper reading
spurring deeper response
  to write alive words
songs sung sweet

the track in this trail
blazed hot
kindled a fire
branding need into life 
 days of invitation to
 swim together in bathos
without drowning in tears

  being still
 waiting quiet 
 opening soft
 listening close 
 before burning
 without being consumed
from worship

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Mama, please stop working  
stay home with me
 I don't want so many toys 
To be with you
is what I need.

The play dough you make 
the warm cookies you bake 
wrap me in care
 no paid giver can give

Mama look at me
did you see the trick
take a picture 
store it behind your 
eyes to recall
when the child me 
is gone 

Daddy, we feel last on the list 
Honey, so do I
we count less than the
 weighty importance
 and throbbing enticement
of electronic bliss 
an affair of a different sort
an emotional attachment 
to some machine
in between
the promise of 

Mama, hold me not that 'pad
My love, caress my hand 
instead of the phone
Give me your hunger,
your curiosity
and thirst
Be not deceived 
the Apple bewitches
say no to it
and yes to me

Yes to pressing 
your breath into mine
what's priceless 
inside the gate of

I love the Apple store. My power cord needed replaced last week. Inside, the store did not have one free station. People were lined up, waiting and drooling. I observed it from the outside, instead of being one of the drooling ones - did I mention I love Apple products? Even so, it made me a little nauseated. 

In the last month, I have heard a high profile person wonder aloud if anyone has gone back to an 'old phone' after using a blackberry. A little boy really did beg his mom to stay home. Recently, at a writer's conference, the place where young writer's used to sit and dialogue with older author's was also the only accessible wifi spot. The open lids of laptops was an intimidating wall, shutting out missed opportunities. It is common for a friend's blackberry or iphone to make an unwelcomed trio. The e-mails and text messages often are more important than being present.

 I feel this urgent need to protect the priceless, irreplaceable need for human connection. Everything Apple makes is sexy and feels sensuous, even the bags! 

But wait, nothing can compare to warm skin, hugs, kisses and whisker rubs. It is so uncomplicated and easy. Buy that. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Purple Pine Cones?

 Exploring backyard serendipity at a friend's house today. Discovering.  

There is an endless array of conifers that grow well here in our acid soil and rainy clime. These small purple pine cones enchanted. I've never noticed them before. 

They grow straight up in the air! 

Salmon berry blossoms fill the green woods with first color.

Salmon berry - one of the earliest berries, a native in the woods. 

Tender tip - new tuft of lime green

This girl's name eludes me, but her color combination is great. Is it bugloss?

Monday, April 19, 2010


It's our youngest daughter's birthday today. She's 19.

Brita sucked her thumb for a little longer than usual because she was home educated and didn't have the peer pressure to make her stop. If there's hair in the food or a shell, she'll get it. She liked her bed more than snuggling after nursing. Her words are a grand mixture of Shakespeare and Kelley Clarkson.

When she finds a gift for someone it is perfect in every way because she has spent a lifetime observing that person. Her artist's eye for detail and color make her our consultant on several fronts. She knows how things go together. When she tells a story or mimicks people, she nails it dead on. Lines in movies get a new twist when she repeats them.

This woman child is generous with us. She's loving, affectionate and helpful. Because she is stubborn and strong, I need her many times to get me through a project. We enjoy her so much. She makes us howl with laughter, often.

This hasn't always been so. Even though as a teenager she didn't struggled with moral issues or addictions, her emotional and relational skills made for some hard moments. She hated me at times and let me know. She spent 4 years being cranky, moody, unhappy, discontent, uneasy, and frustrated. A few things in her life were hidden and secret.

When she was about 16 our mother daughter relationship deteriorated. Craig had to remind me often to take the high road, as I was the parent. Even this last year things haven't been the best.

Finally, I had to tell her that she was disrupting the peace and harmony in our home and our responsibility for her was over. She was 18 and could do as she liked, but not at our house. I suggested she find another place to live where she would be happier and not poison the atmosphere.

We let her know she was wanted and loved, but her behavior was unacceptable. When a child refuses to be grateful or thankful, they need jolted. Reality is their best friend. It was a shock. She knew I was serious. Done. Tough love was needed if I had her best interests at heart.

There were many good times tucked in between these hard years, of course. One time, she broke down admitting she didn't want to 'be like this' anymore. I assured her that now we could start again fresh once more. She sobbed in my arms and told me she didn't think I could keep forgiving her another time. Sort of worried she had used all the tickets up. I reassured her that there wasn't a limit on them - they would never come to an end. She is ours. A gift. Taking ownership and asking for forgiveness gave her the ability to receive an endless supply. I secretly wondered if the roll of tickets had an end. :)

My point isn't to expose Brita. It is to give hope. Kids have to separate so they will come back and relate adult to adult instead of continuing as parent/child. They have many ways to do this, some more destructive than others. Some with dire consequences.

When I lost heart or became discouraged, Craig reminded me of these things and I got a new surge of desire to try and reach her heart. I missed the intimacy of when she was a child. I missed being connected. We forgot how to enjoy each other.

It has happened. We all still live together. The future is bright. There is no collateral damage. Nothing in a heap that hasn't been repaired. We haven't scarred each other or burned any bridges. We decided to stay, and keep trying to figure out how to love each other. Since we are so much alike, it has been a roller coaster of a challenge.

At every crossroads, we decided to love and forgive each other. And try again.

Today I feel honored to call my daughter my friend. She's beautiful and talented. May the circle be unbroken. Not only do I love her dearly, but it is wonderful to be loved by her. Again.

This is an old picture before the hard times began. This girl is back - a lovely, spirited, captivating woman now. Her eyes sparkle again. She's dreaming big dreams. Her heart is open and generous.

I think of two songs often. They help me stay and love. 

Sarah Groves' Loving a Person and Merle Haggard's Leavin's Not the Only Way to Go

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Book Signing

I've never been to a book signing before. Anne Lamott's for Imperfect Birds was my first. Two hundred plus people wanted to hear her. Half the room was standing room only. Packed. Her hand would be tired by the time she finally could leave.

These are a few things I noticed and heard. She was utterly exhausted. I hope she was on the end of her schedule; going home. She was real and spoke as if we weren't strangers. She knows how to connect. Two hearing impaired men were able to switch seats, because she wanted them to be able to sit in front. The babies in the audience were acknowledged. Celebrated.

There were worried parents in the crowd wanting to know how to keep their children from bad choices. Depending on her, hoping she had a magic formula. It was clear - she didn't have one. "Make sure you all eat healthy, real food around a dinner table together every night." "Have such a vibrant life that they will want one." "Stop being technologically frenetic and see them." Ending with,  "Even if you do this, all the right things, they may still make bad choices." She didn't pretend or want to have answers.

One young mother of a TWO year old asked if getting her son into Aikido early might channel his energy and protect him. Anne was stunned speechless for a moment. "Enjoy him - he's two!"

She talked about the emotional acre we all own. Some choose to fill it with junk cars. Some have art studios.  Some want playgrounds, others build libraries or music rooms or graveyards. We get one acre/one life to live; how we choose is ours. Again, a paraphrase.

My favorite thing was how she talked about filling our days with things that hydrate and moisturize us, instead of the cell phone, laptops and TV. She wondered aloud what our kids see in our lives to emulate? They seem sickened by the hurry scurry materialism and busyness we embrace.

Her heart was breaking for the children, especially young girls, who in spite of feminism and the supposed sexual freedom, are enslaved. Slaves to being the 'chosen' one. Picked. Picked by a guy to perform what gives him sexual relief and gives her Hep C, or worse. It isn't even about mutual pleasure. These girls are simply being used. Willingly abused. And have the consequences for life.

There was much grief in her eyes from knowing too many kids who have died from addiction. There is an epidemic. Marijuana, alcohol and drug abuse bending young minds to self destruct - it bothered her greatly. I loved how she wasn't sitting in judgement or pointing her finger - she was there with them, watching and wanting to help. Her concern is how much stronger and deadly the available drugs are, along with the young age of those experimenting.

She laughed at how she has critics poking at her from all sides. It was a hurt laugh. She said her replies were, "Really" and "Huh" more and more often now. People everywhere want to be right, then persuade her they are right and she's wrong. "Ignore everybody and tend to your acre." My paraphrase of her wisdom.

Her first book was rejected. The rejection note encouraged her to put it away and move on to something else. She kept on writing anyways. Disheartened perhaps, but constant in moving forward. I love her book about writing; Bird by Bird.

I wonder if the fame, hard work and grueling schedule is worth it? She seemed like she'd be a good neighbor to invite over for tea and swing on a porch swing together. Being. I found myself wanting to nourish and nurture a world weary sister, while playing with her dreadlocks. :)

Bookstore Vikings

Strange things happen to me at Barnes and Noble. Perhaps it's because I stay so long the plot catches up? Yesterday I drove to Seattle. The U district had invited Anne Lamott for a reading/book signing for her new book Imperfect Birds. Maureen saw her last week on the east coast. I won't try to capture quotes like she did in her awesome post. I'll be "telling it slant" as Eugene Peterson says. But before I get to her talk, picture this.

A table with a sturdy captain's chair was available. I had a pile of Wendell Berry, because Glynn had piqued my interest a few days ago. Bright Star, a book about a movie made of Keat's love letters to Fanny. A tragedy. Kathleen Norris' Acedia and Me. Eugene Peterson's Tell it Slant. Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. And three Ambrose Bierce dictionaries; because they were next to Wendell.

I read several books simultaneously. Three books were turned upside down at the place I had stopped reading. A very stern, serious employee came up and asked me if I was done with any of the pile. I told her which she could take away. Huffing, she came back with a handfull of bookmarks. Pointing to the open, face down books she told me to please use bookmarks. The look on her face spoke volumes about my neglect. I apologized, feeling like a naughty four year old.

Anne wasn't scheduled until seven. About five o'clock, a big viking with long blond curly hair and a stuffed backpack pulled up a chair to my table - uninvited. I scooted my piles towards my side. After grooming himself thoroughly, Hagar proceeded to unpack and methodically set up a shrine. Iconic art cards were placed across the halfway mark of the table. Mostly of the Madonna. One looked like Frida. Rosary beads. A thick book on Augustine. And a mystery item on the corner still in its bag.

Hagar fiddled and fussed.  It took quite some time to arrange all of his worn out shrine accroutements. He had a system. It was obvious this was a ritual he had engaged in many times before. Part of me understood. A bookstore is somehow sacred space. But I had never seen it taken to this extreme before. The only thing missing was a candle. The mystery item hadn't shown itself yet. It wasn't time.

I looked him full in the eye with a serious face and said, "Now don't go and take up more than your share of the table buddy, there's the line." He looked startled and timid, for a viking. It made me laugh. Outloud. Finally, when I could breathe, I told him I was teasing him. He looked relieved. I asked if he remembered fighting for space with his siblings. He looked blank as he fiddled with his rosary.

Suddenly, loudly, he started giving me the full history of the Vatican. He expressed concern over the lack of latin services; they were straying from their true beginnings. He tries to find Greek Orthodox services now. They know how to keep it beautiful.

I felt the group of people behind me getting annoyed at this boisterous  monologue. Monologue means only one person is talking. He finally stayed quiet except for the rattling of the mystery bag. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him eating something with a silver spoon. He would lay it down after a bit and pick up his book. Often, he shuckled. At Augustine? Hmmm. Pretty soon he would repeat the sequence. Rosary. Eat. Read. Rosary. Eat. Read. Fiddle, fiddle. Rearrange things. Repeat.

I couldn't concentrate any longer. As I packed up and left, I looked into the bag. I had to know. It was a half gallon of chocolate ice cream. A different kind of communion, for sure.  He didn't offer me any.

This needs to be continued tomorrow. I still have to tell you about Anne.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Choosing to Breathe

Waiting monster 
hangs out underneath 
the bathtub drain

it scares me
when he grabs my
unsuspecting ankle
sucking me down swirling  
to live with him
in dark, suffocating 

kicking loose 
the choke hold 
licking it's lips to 
enslave me

I run outside 
to gulp 
deep breaths of
garden life

gathering dayspring
 basket full of 

just enough
for the wilderness 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bud to Bloom

Buds wait for warmth when unfolding is safe.
They seem comfortable waiting for their mysterious
future. There is a plan unfurling. They stay put. 
Bloom happens. It always does. Every time. 
I see what these buds will be.
So does he, with me. 


Scarlet Trillium




Thursday, April 8, 2010


This gift of my favorite OLD parfume and bath powder (with a puff) came from my little sister last week. She was excited to have found it online, as it isn't sold in fine stores any longer. She probably spent a small fortune on it. Parfume vs. cologne. The result and the prices match. 

When she was young and impressionable, it was the only scent I wore. It was a signature thing. I felt elegant and sophisticated. It bedazzled her when I would allow her to take out the glass stopper from the  bottle to dab on a drop. She would smell delicious for days if she didn't bathe or wash it off. Real parfume has staying power that blends with your body's natural chemistry and oil. This mingling creates a signature scent, unique, yours alone.

I haven't looked for it, seen it, or thought about it for twenty years or more. Opening it was delightful at first. The box, bottle, and container were familiar, bringing back many memories. Some a bit provocative. 

Gingerly, I dabbed some here and there. Immediately, I felt like throwing up. The memory wasn't matching the reality. My chemistry has changed since way back when! I smelled like an ancient woman trying to conceal some horrible body odor behind the wretched stench of dime store cologne. 

It was scrubbed off with soap as soon as I could manage. The high quality parfume had penetrated my skin like a tattoo. A full sleeve tattoo. I felt pregnant with morning sickness ALL day. Couldn't shake it off. Car sick. Sea sick. 

My little sis called wondering if I was surprised and delighted. Lying wasn't going to work. She is so generous, she would have kept me supplied for the rest of our lives. I would want to be the first to die. Seriously. 

The only thing to do was confess. 

We laughed till tears ran, and changed our minds ~ tainting the memory a smidge. This will be my first and only give away on this blog. You can have the boxed set. I'll pay shipping. I will even pay you to take it. 

I am unable to throw such delicious memories in the trash or thrift store. Save them from such a tragic end? It would be like giving grandma to Goodwill.

Would you like me to send you a sprayed paper sample? [evil grin]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


This grape vine tendril knows to cling is good. It finds strength at the ready when the top gets heavy or winds want to whip it loose from the arbor. It stays fast to its mooring ~ its grounded, planted deep, rooted place. 

Clinginess and clingy seem like unhealthy words. Yet, to cling is wise sometimes:

I cling to the rock that is higher.

I cling to an anchor that steadies. 

I cling to truth that is more than merely what I believe. 

I cling to my marriage vows. 

I cling to covenant friendships. 

I cling to the roots, traditions, and heritage of family. 

I cling to faith. 

I cling to a few unfinished dreams. 

Clinging is different than clutching in fear.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ferns Unfolding

Have done 
am doing
will do 
again and again
each new season
every next chapter

till the end 
of a new beginning 
forever open 

I collect specimen ferns for my back yard's native garden beds. They enchant me each spring as they open. If the tender fiddle heads are damaged, they never recover for that season. The next year they start over ~ more maturity brings a more magnificent plant. As they age, they become majestic. Noble. Stunning. Statuesque. Honorable. Stately. Elegant. Regal. Priceless. 

Bees Knees and Me

Pollen swollen legs 
heavy with instinct
aching need 

waiting blossom
with petals open 
 for tango touch
a gentle dance 
upon her center

 sun days ahead
turn flower to fruit 
  sweet juice drips
sticky kiss on 
ripe skin

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tune Up

Hard talk last night.
We slide too easily into ruts. 
They get deeper by the day. 
Comfortable, easy grooves where steering isn't necessary. 
Looking ahead isn't important in this track. 
We forget to shake off the stuckness. 
I'm always greedy for more ~ passion and curiosity, 
earnest learning, and my man pursuing me with gusto.
A vibrant marriage takes purposeful intent.
Stimulating conversation needs seeded. 
Passionate physical intimacy needs a new outlook at times. 
It seems demanding to want more than comfortable. 
We remind each other. 
I ask.
We decide. 
Craving more is a compliment to the day we said "I Do". 
We agreed to turn the dial one notch from default. 
It's a new morning. 
Regular tune-ups make engines run forever. 
Maintenance makes marriage more. 
He's revving up his engine, brawny like. 
My motor's purring smooth and steady. 
Ready once again ~ for more. 
Invariably, we'll again fall back in another groove.
Need to do it again, again.
And we will, because we like I do's.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring and Easter

Craig took me on a tulip field treasure hunt this morning. Rows of tulips in field after field. Red. Pink. Yellow. Purple. Coral. Rainbow fields.

There were clusters of people packed into the farms that charged for parking. Bulging lots with long lines of people trying to 'get in'. We were a bit confused. There were lovely fields all over, bursting with the same color. Free to enjoy. No crowds. Quiet gift.

We needed to stop at the grocery store. Again, there were lines and lines of parents with children crammed in a corner, on the cement parking lot, pretending it was an Easter Egg hunt. I pitied the experience they were having. It was a one dimensional, synthetic caricature of the organic thing. Trading the simple and real, for this commercial, free, industry produced fake. It was chaotic, children were crying. Parents were upset and frustrated.

I felt so sad for them. There might be some of you horrified to think of Easter including pagan symbols of bunnies, eggs, candy, etc. This isn't my point. Loving spring and celebrating resurrection day ~ both are worth taking note of for me. They go together like berry pie and ice cream. :)

We were extremely poor growing up ~ as far as cash flow goes. In the art of living and celebrating though, I'm realizing how rich we were. Mom created a lovely Easter breakfast 'from scratch'. Her best white tablecloth was starched. China and crystal used. Daffodils graced the table. The food offered was a simple, tasty transference of love.

We met to eat together after an early sunrise service. We watched the sunrise, heard a good word, sang a couple songs. Enjoyed nature's crisp new morning in soft whispers of wonder, before gathering around the heavy, crowded table. This table was loud with laughter and lively talk.

The men in the family took great care hiding the eggs we had dyed the night before. Finding them after breakfast made us wriggle in anticipation. They were hidden up in tree branches, down under bushes, and in the grass. Complex spots for the older ones, simpler ones for the younger.

Egg salad sandwiches with colorful veins of accidental color were what we ate most the next week. We only had rainbow sandwiches once a year.

We were never confused about the "Real" meaning of Easter. It didn't detract from the glorious good news. It framed it. Wrapped it with family, memories, play, celebration, and color ~ all in a natural setting.

Relax. Enjoy making a rainbow memory ~ one your children will be able to hold and touch many times over.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What If?

What if we wanted to be with people to know their heart and understand what makes them dance, howl, sing, cry, break, laugh, whistle, hum, pray, and purr?

What if we wanted to listen to their story?

What if we wanted to know what kind of music they liked?

What if we were curious about the books by their bed?

What if we wanted to know the things which left before and after timeline marks on their life?

What if we wanted to know them, instead of their job title?

What if we didn't want to sell them anything or use them?

What if they were a gift for that moment, that day, that time?

What if we enjoyed them and their perspective?

What if we appreciated the value they add to our lives?

What if we wanted to share a meal with them?

What if we needed their advice?

What if we wanted to be with them?

What if we missed them?

What if we told them, or asked?

What if they are waiting for someone to tell their story to?

What if it's me?